On the outing of John and Jane Does in the legislature

The Nashville Scene, which has identified state Rep. Mary Littleton as the person identified only as “Rep. Jane Doe 33” in a report by Attorney General Herbert Slatery on the alleged sexual harassment activities of former Rep. Jeremy Durham, has since published the names of 10 other state representatives given only an anonymous “Doe” designation in the official report.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart, Tennessee Democratic Chair Mary Mancini and others in the party promptly and publicly joined in naming Littleton – citing the Scene, though often simply deeming it a “media source” — and calling for an investigation into the report’s arguable implication that Rep. Jane Doe 33 caused a legislative staffer to lose her job because of dealings with Durham that Rep. Doe 33 disliked; Stewart called it “punishing the victim.”

In media circles, WTVF-TV used Littleton’s name; another Nashville TV station reporting on the Democrats’ news conference, WSMV, did not. The Tennessean, which has spearheaded reporting on Durham’s deeds, rejected identification, contending that use of Rep. Jane Doe 33’s real name could logically lead to identifying the former staffer – “Jane Doe 24” – who is a victim of sexual harassment.

The newspaper, along with most other media outlets, traditionally do not identify victims or sexual abuse or harassment without their consent. The AG report says Jane Doe 24 worked for Rep. Jane Doe 33 and a search of public records – or basic knowledge within legislative circles – could indeed identify Jane Doe 24.

The Scene’s listing of the other 10 John and Jane Doe legislators seems to have been widely ignored by other media outlets, but for the record, it’s HERE – the list follows a narrative on reasons for reporting it. At least one Democrat opposing a named Republican legislator — Becky Goff, who is running against Rep. Dawn White, R-Murfreesboro – did a Facebook post link to the Scene’s story, noting that her opponent was included, though giving no negative commentary.

A few observations based on comparing numerical names listed in the attorney general’s report (HERE) with the Scene’s listings, which all seem to mesh pretty well:

The newly outed legislators had fairly minor dealings with Durham as compared to Rep. Jane Doe 33 (or Littleton, who has remained remarkably silent on the matter). If White is correctly identified, she basically was  a good friend with Durham – joining him at various functions — but became concerned after hearing accusations against him.

The most obviously identifiable legislators, even without the Scene report, are House Speaker Beth Harwell (Rep. Jane Doe 25) and House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (Rep. John Doe 42). The comments reported by Nos. 25 and 42 in the AG report pretty much mesh with what Harwell and McCormick have publicly stated.

In the AG report, Rep. John Doe 37 (identified as Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville) and Rep. John Doe 69 (identified as Rep. Tim Wirgau, R-Buchanan) are mentioned as hosting a “special event” for lobbyists where an intern got “special permission” to attend – contrary to a general rule against legislative interns attending such after-hours events – to set up the physical arrangements and act as a server during the event. This, the report said, led to the intern facing inappropriate approaches from Durham that she later discussed with a concerned Rep. Doe 69, though she declined to file a complaint.

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