House Speaker Sara Gideon said Friday she has asked state Rep. Dillon Bates of Westbrook to resign his seat in the Legislature, citing allegations in a published report that he engaged in inappropriate behavior with several female students.

Rep. Dillon Bates

“The allegations made against Rep. Bates are deeply troubling,” Gideon said in a statement issued Friday. “I cannot condone this behavior, I value the voices of the young women who came forward and I have requested that Rep. Bates resign from office immediately.”

Bates, 30, is a longtime coach and teacher who resigned abruptly last fall from his job as drama teacher at Maine Girls Academy in Portland. He told a reporter at the time that he resigned for family reasons.

An attorney for Bates said Friday that the allegations are untrue, and that Bates would not step down.

“Rep. Bates certainly appreciates that Speaker Gideon has expressed concerns about allegations that have been made against him. But any allegations are completely baseless,” attorney Walter McKee said in an email. “There is not a shred of evidence to support the suggestion that he engaged in any misconduct. Rep. Bates will serve out the rest of his term.”

Bates is a two-term representative who is not running for re-election this fall. He was also a delegate to the 2008 and 2012 Democratic State Conventions.

The Bollard, a monthly publication in Portland, published a story on Friday alleging that Bates had inappropriate relationships with “at least three” female students over several years. The story did not identify the students or the sources who made the allegations.

House Speaker Sara Gideon said, “I value the voices of the young women who came forward.”

The story quoted one woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, who said she was a victim.

Bates has been credentialed as an education technician for the state of Maine since November 2013. His credential, which expired July 1, is still valid, according to the Maine Department of Education, because rules allow an existing credential to remain in effect until a renewal application is being processed.

The department has had a six- to eight-week delay recently in processing credentials.

Gideon’s call for Bates’ resignation prompted a partisan response Friday afternoon from Nina McLaughlin, spokeswoman for the Maine Republican Party.

McLaughlin said in a statement that she “personally heard concerns” about Bates having an inappropriate relationship with a student, but “Democrat House leadership defended Rep. Bates by telling several people who inquired that it was simply not true. Someone needs to get to the bottom of this.”

McLaughlin did not respond to an email Friday asking for details about her assertions. Gideon also did not respond to a request for comment on McLaughlin’s statement.

Bates has been continuously employed as a coach or teacher for years, and is involved in public theater. He co-owns a theater company in Westbrook and was a former camp counselor and director at Schoolhouse Arts Center at Sebago Lake.

After he left Maine Girls Academy in November 2017, he coached the boys and girls track teams at Massabesic High School in Regional School Unit 57.

According to RSU 57 school board minutes, he was hired in April to be the head coach for the cross country team at Massabesic High School this fall. The season for that team starts August 13.

Calls to the superintendent of RSU 57 to confirm Bates’ employment were not returned Friday. The board leadership for the Maine Girls Academy, which closed in July, did not return calls and emails seeking comment.

Bates has been an athletic coach or drama teacher at multiple schools, including Greely Middle School in Cumberland, Lincoln Middle School in Portland, Bonny Eagle High School in Standish, Gorham High School and Great Falls Elementary School in Gorham.

Suspicions of inappropriate relations between a teacher and student must be reported to the state. All school employees are mandated reporters, which means they are required to call a 24-hour hotline to report any suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of a student. The investigation is carried out confidentially, and the state can take action that includes revoking credentials or referring a case to law enforcement.

Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: noelinmaine

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