Carl DeMaio, the openly homosexual candidate running for the congressional seat in the 52nd Congressional District, has now been accused a second time of sexual harassment. Justin Harper, a former veteran of the Navy who worked for DeMaio’s campaign, said he was in the bathroom at campaign headquarters on July 10 when DeMaio exposed himself.
Harper initially reported to Team 10 on October 24 that he was in the stall and DeMaio at the urinal, but later told KPBS that it was the other way around. He told Team 10 after their initial contact that he wished to remain anonymous, which prompted them to hold the story, but on Saturday, three days before the election, told KPBS to go ahead and reveal his name.
Harper told Team 10 in their phone call that he was horrified when DeMaio exposed himself, and was unsure of what to do. On Sunday, Harper responded to a query about his story reversal by writing, “I saw in the report that it said I was in a stall. That is incorrect. I was at the urinal and Carl came from the stall.” He said he left the campaign on July 12, then left California because he did not want to “get involved” and did not want to be part of any sexual harassment claims, saying to Team 10, “I tried to keep my name out of this as long as I could.”
KPBS reported on Sunday that Harper kept emails from the campaign and also has a written recommendation from DeMaio.
DeMaio’s spokesman, Dave McCulloch, released this statement, which mentioned the name of the first accuser of DeMaio, Todd Bosnich, who had accused DeMaio of masturbating in front of him:
By resurrecting this outrageous lie in the last 48 hours of the campaign, Scott Peters has sunk to a new low. Peters’ campaign manager MaryAnn Pintar has now been caught coordinating with these individuals to advance this disgusting false smear that the District Attorney dismissed weeks ago. Both Mr. Bosnich and Mr. Harper’s girlfriend were the suspects in the break-in of our campaign office – from which Scott Peters’ campaign was the recipient of the confidential campaign playbook that was taken during the break-in. Scott Peters’ actions are reprehensible and demonstrate he is what is wrong with Washington.
What McCulloch was referring to was an email written by Harper to Peters’ campaign asking them to contact him after Bosnich had made his accusation. Bosnich sent Harper’s email to reporters, outing him as a victim, although Harper had spoken to reporters off the record. Bosnich wrote, “I’ve had an extremely difficult time wrestling with the decision about whether I should reveal Carl had sexually assaulted Justin in the restroom, but I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t speak up.” KPBS said Harper was “pissed” that Bosnich had sent the email.
Alex Roth, the communications director for Scott Peters, who is running against DeMaio, released this statement:
It is a false and egregious lie to suggest our campaign is to blame for the Filner-esque mess Mr. DeMaio has created. Both of DeMaio’s accusers worked for his campaign, both are loyal Republicans. These are serious charges and there are victims. Carl needs to stop placing blame on others and take responsibility for his actions.
DeMaio’s former deputy campaign manager, Alsion Rentschler, Harper’s former girlfriend who currently works for a GOP campaign out-of-state, said Bosnich was honest.
KPBS quoted the landlord at DeMaio’s campaign headquarters, who gave an interesting twist that may cast doubt on Harper’s story; the only urinal in the second-floor men’s restroom has been broken since January and has plastic wrap all over it; Harper had said the urinal was in good condition. But that same landlord has also donated $4,000 to DeMaio’s congressional campaign.
DeMaio had accused Bosnich of breaking into his office. That charge and Bosnich’s charge of sexual harassment were rejected by the D.A.
The most recent 10News/UT Sand Diego poll rates the battle for the congressional seat as a virtual tie.