Rep. Dillon Bates, D-Westbrook, resigned Monday in the face of a potential ethics investigation into allegations that he has engaged in inappropriate relationships with female students.

Dillon Bates said in his resignation message: “In my time away from the Legislature, I plan to focus on clearing my name.”

Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon, who had previously sought Bates’ resignation, shared an email from the 30-year-old former teacher and coach Monday.

“Speaker Gideon, I will be resigning my seat in the 128th Maine Legislature, effective tomorrow, August 20,” Bates said in the email. “The anonymous allegations against me are baseless and false. That said, with likely only a matter of hours of legislative work remaining, I do not wish to create any distractions.”

“In my time away from the Legislature, I plan to focus on clearing my name. I am proud of my time in service to the City of Westbrook and the State of Maine. It has been an honor to be their voice in Augusta for the past four years, and I look forward to finding ways to serve my community, state, and country in the future. I wish all those who choose to serve our great state only the best.”

The resignation comes less than two weeks after state Rep. Paula Sutton, R-Warren, called for a House Ethics Committee session regarding the accusations against the two-term lawmaker.

Bates, through his attorney, had previously denied wrongdoing and had indicated that he would not step down. He has not been charged with any crimes.

Bates didn’t respond to requests for comment from the Press Herald on Monday. Henry Beck, one of Bates’ attorneys, said Bates would not be making additional comments or answering questions from the media.

Gideon, of Freeport, called on Bates to resign after The Bollard, a monthly publication in Portland, published a story Aug. 3 alleging that Bates, who represents House District 35 in Westbrook, had inappropriate relationships with “at least three” female students over several years.

Gideon declined to comment in detail Monday, other than to confirm Bates had resigned.

The story did not identify the students or the people who made the allegtations.

In November, Bates abruptly resigned from his job as drama coach at Maine Girls’ Academy, and this month the Schoolhouse Arts Center in Standish announced on its website that Bates had resigned as its education director and would no longer be affiliated with the organization.

Bates resigned his position coaching boys and girls cross-country teams at Massabesic High School this fall, officials at Regional School Unit 57 said several days after publication of the story about Bates.

Walter McKee, an attorney for Bates, has previously said that Bates would serve the rest of his term. Bates is not seeking re-election.

Three people who worked at the Maine Girls’ Academy, which closed in July because of financial problems, told the Press Herald this month that they each made separate reports to a state hotline set up for reporting possible child abuse.

The three said they made the calls in the days after Bates resigned in November, in part because they were not certain whether school leadership had reported the allegations.

House Republican Leader Ken Fredette released a statement Monday saying that the House can now “focus on the important work we have left to finish.”

“With the announcement that Rep. Dillon Bates has decided to step down, the House of Representatives can put this matter behind us,” Fredette said.

The House is due to come back into session on Aug. 30 to take care of unfinished business from this spring’s session.

Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: joelawlorph

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