DeKalb Commissioner Gregory Adams stands with his colleagues during a presentation at a meeting in March. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

DeKalb Commissioner Adams tearfully denies sexual harassment

Before it was DeKalb Commissioner Gregory Adams’ turn to give remarks at the end of Tuesday’s meeting, he listened quietly as his colleagues gave their usual spiels about community events and points of pride.

When his time came, Adams lit into his critics and defended his record in a speech that was both angry and tearful. When he was done he stormed off stage.

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Adams’ speech centered mostly on denying allegations he sexually harassed an aide last year. However, in defending himself against the claims, Adams said he had a “me too” story of his own stemming from time in the military.

“It took me close to 30 years before I would even open my mouth to talk about what I experienced as a man,” he said while wiping his eyes.

He provided no details other than to say he was sexually assaulted while in the service. But Adams said that experience made it even more devastating when he was then accused of harassment.

“I have never disrespected a woman, and I never will,” he said. “… It hurts like hell.”

Ashlee Wright accused Adams of sending inappropriate text messages and voicemails, including inviting himself to her hotel room late one night and requesting she send photos of herself in a bikini. A county investigation determined that Adams had violated its sexual harassment policy and recommended training.

Wright later requested a $750,000 settlement from the county, which is still pending. A complaint was also filed with the DeKalb Board of Ethics, which is under review.

After the meeting, members of Adams’ team said he decided to speak out after his opponent in the July runoff, businesswoman Lorraine Cochran-Johnson, began bringing up allegations against Adams while campaigning. Cochran-Johnson did not immediately respond to an email asking for her to comment.

Cochran-Johnson was among three candidates who decided to challenge Adams for the District 7 seat representing the eastern half of DeKalb; she finished a close second behind him in the May primary. Whoever wins the July 24 runoff will assume the seat because no Republicans qualified to run.

Before leaving the stage abruptly, Adams rebuked his critics one last time. “I didn’t join the commission for nobody to try to tell lies on me,” he said.

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