Rhode Island Official Resigns After Hiring Man to Dress as Elderly Woman

Cranston, RI

The Cranston, Rhode Island, director of senior services, desiring to impress residents with the city’s snow shoveling program, hired a middle-aged man to don a wig, earrings, lipstick, and a dress in order to look like an elderly woman supporter.

The photo-op showed David Roberts, a van driver who transports seniors to the salon at the senior center, standing behind Sue Stenhouse, the city’s director of senior services. Roberts, sporting a name tag that read ‘‘Cranston Senior Home Resident,’’ stood next to Cranston mayor Allan Fung at the January 5 news conference to announce the launch of the Snow Angels Program, which urges teenagers to help elderly residents by shoveling driveways and pathways. Three young people stood behind Stenhouse; Roberts was the only “elderly” person.

Stenhouse, a 2006 Republican nominee for secretary of state who organized the news conference, has resigned, according to Rob Coupe, the city’s director of administration. Coupe would only say that the issue was a personnel matter, Fung did not return phone calls.

WJAR-TV interviewed Elaine Mancuso, a hair salon owner who said she gave the wig to Roberts. Mancuso said, ‘‘He says to me, ‘Elaine, do you have a wig that I could borrow? I have to get dressed as a senior.’’’ Mancuso, who found out later what had happened, added, ‘‘I said, ‘Oh, my God. He wanted it for that.’ I probably would have given him a better wig if I had known.”