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Democratic House candidate to stay in race amid allegations of inappropriate relations with college students

The Hill logo The Hill 8/10/2020 Rebecca Klar
Alex B. Morse smiling for the camera: Democratic House candidate to stay in race amid allegations of inappropriate relations with college students © Facebook.com Democratic House candidate to stay in race amid allegations of inappropriate relations with college students

Holyoke, Mass., Mayor Alex Morse (D) said Sunday he will remain in his congressional primary race against Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) amid a University of Massachusetts investigation into allegations that Morse had sexual relationships with students while teaching at University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Morse denied ever using his position of power as mayor or as a lecturer to take advantage of students.

"I want to be very clear about this. I have never, in my entire life, had a non-consensual sexual encounter with anyone. I have never used my position of power as Mayor and UMass lecturer for romantic or sexual gain, or to take advantage of students," he said in a statement. "I have never violated UMass policy. Any claim to the contrary is false. As I've acknowledged, I have had consensual relationships with other men, including students enrolled at local universities that I've met using dating apps."

"While I am confident that a full investigation into these matters will clear my name completely of any unethical conduct, I also recognize that some students felt uncomfortable with interactions they had with me. I am sorry for that," he added.

Morse underscored his statement about remaining in the race by stating that it is "unfortunate that these allegations came three weeks before the primary, because there isn't enough time for UMass to conduct an independent review" before the election.

Morse taught a course in Urban Government and Politics during multiple semesters over the course of five years, most recently teaching at the school during the fall semester in 2019.

He was accused by three groups of College Democrats this week of using his position to coerce students into sexual relationships, according to multiple reports. The groups made the accusations in a letter first obtained by The Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

The university said Saturday in a statement that it launched an investigation to determine if Morse's actions violated Title IX.

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