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Candidate Says Sex Allegations Are Smear Attempt

June 5, 1996 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) _ Maine’s wide-open Senate race heated up a week before the primary with reports that a conservative Republican candidate who has campaigned on the issue of family values had sex with his children’s 12-year-old baby sitter.

W. John Hathaway, a freshman state senator regarded as the dark horse in his three-way GOP race, denied any wrongdoing. He accused a rival in Tuesday’s primary, pension expert Robert A.G. Monks, of trying to smear him.

``I believe that what you’re seeing today is the worst and most sleazy campaign ever run in any state,″ Hathaway said at a news conference in Portland. He was joined by his wife and five children.

Hathaway, 44, who was never charged in connection with the sex allegations, indicated he would remain in the Senate race.

The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that Alabama authorities investigated statutory rape accusations against Hathaway, who lived in Huntsville for a decade before returning to his native Maine in 1993.

The Globe, citing sources it said were familiar with the investigation, said the girl told officials she and Hathaway had sex on numerous occasions over 18 months, beginning in 1989 when she was 12.

Former Alabama Attorney General Jimmy Evans and Madison County (Ala.) District Attorney Morris Brooks Jr. said they didn’t prosecute because the girl’s family would not cooperate further out of fear that she would be traumatized, the Globe said.

Hathaway said the girl was 14 or 15, not 12, and that she was ``a great storyteller″ who struck one of his children before she was placed in a school for troubled youths.

He said their two families were friends at the time and the girl was allowed to baby-sit several times despite emotional problems.

Hathaway said he never touched her or said anything improper.

``Neither family should be going through this,″ Hathaway said Wednesday. ``This was put to bed a long time ago.″

Monks, who futilely took on Margaret Chase Smith in a 1972 Republican Senate primary and Democratic Sen. Edmund Muskie in a 1976 general election, said it was outrageous for Hathaway to blame him for airing the Alabama allegations.

``I am not John Hathaway’s problem,″ said Monks, 62.

Spokesman Willis Lyford acknowledged that the Monks campaign commissioned a research firm to ``look into″ the matter. But he said researchers ``didn’t determine anything more than what was already known and then dropped it.″

Hathaway has championed a loose coalition of anti-taxers, conservative church activists and property rights proponents, regularly calling for less government, lower taxes, stronger families and strengthened freedoms.

In remarks prepared for last weekend’s Republican State Convention, Hathaway declared: ``To restore our families we must end our welfare state _ not just because it is wasteful spending but because it destroys families, it destroys the moral foundation of America and it destroys the lives of the those who are in it.″

Political analysts said the most likely beneficiary of the tumult is Susan Collins, the third Republican Senate candidate in the race to succeed retiring Sen. William Cohen.

Collins, 43, was the first woman nominated for governor in Maine by a major party and came in third in 1994 in the race won by Gov. Angus King, an independent. She began this year’s Senate race as the favorite although Monk and Hathaway have much larger campaign treasuries.

Five Democrats are seeking their party’s nomination in the June 11 primary. The best known is Joseph Brennan, a two-term governor and congressman who lost attempts to reclaim the governorship in 1990 and 1994.

Several independents also are running.

Cohen’s retirement announcement in January echoed the decision by Democrat George Mitchell, then Senate majority leader, not to run for re-election in 1994.

After Mitchell pulled out, the state’s two House members battled for his seat: two-term Democrat Tom Andrews and eight-term Republican Olympia Snowe, who won.

This year, there was no obvious matchup. The state’s current congressmen, Republican James Longley Jr. and Democrat John Baldacci, decided to seek re-election.