Sen. Ed Flanagan: "I'm very sorry"
State Sen. Ed Flanagan said Wednesday he was "very sorry" if he offended anyone while unclothed inside the men's wellness center at the Greater Burlington YMCA.
As related in a story first reported by "Fair Game" in today's Seven Days, last Friday a YMCA patron complained to Y officials that Flanagan was masturbating in plain view of other patrons inside the adults-only wellness center. After confirming what he had seen with a fellow patron in the center at that time, Tiki Archambeau filed his complaint.
Archambeau spoke publicly about his complaint to Seven Days and noted that he had previously observed peculiar behavior by Flanagan in the wellness center. That behavior included using the treadmill while clad in nothing but shoes, socks and a watch.
In addition, Seven Days has spoken to other YMCA patrons, and to a former staffer who also spoke publicly, about Flanagan's actions inside the wellness center. All confirmed the kind of behavior described by Archambeau.
Flanagan maintains his innocence of the specific charge that he was masturbating in plain sight of fellow wellness center patrons last Friday, and disputes the other claims of inappropriate behavior as well.
Yet he took time Wednesday to apologize for any of his behavior that may have bothered other patrons.
"While I stand by everything I've said and don't wish to change anything, I do want to add the fact that I'm very sorry if I offended anybody in whatever I did when I was unclothed," Flanagan told Seven Days.
"If there is not a criminal complaint, then this is handled internally," said Burns. However, she did say that when a serious complaint is lodged against a member, such as the one filed against Flanagan, that individual loses access to the building and its facilities until they speak directly with Burns or her designee.
After it concludes its investigation, the Y can mete out a wide variety of punishments to a member: It can issue a verbal reprimand, temporarily suspend a membership, or revoke the membership, said Burns.
Flanagan told Seven Days that he does not plan to fight the complaint, but insists the allegations are untrue and unfounded.
"I am not going to get into an elaborate argument with them about this," said Flanagan. "I'm simply not going to go there anymore and go along and live my life."
Flanagan did say these allegations do not, at this time, change his plans to run for lieutenant governor. He announced his bid at the end of the legislative session.
The four-term state auditor said he finds it hard to believe that the YMCA didn't put a stop to his behavior or speak to him before now if other patrons found it so off-putting and inappropriate.
"How is it that the alleged conduct went on for long — why did the Y let it go on so long? It's obvious. Because it did not happen," Flanagan told Seven Days in a telephone interview Wednesday after reading the article.
Flanagan said he works out regularly in Montpelier during the legislative session and has worked out at other facilities in the region — without incident.
"Not once has any of this been brought up," said Flanagan. "It's never been a problem."
Back in May, Seven Days published a controversial cover story about Flanagan. In the article, entitled "Continuing Ed", staff writer Ken Picard chronicled Flanagan's peculiar behavior under the Golden Dome — from sorting candies on his committee room desk to lying prone on the floor — in the wake of the traumatic brain injury he suffered in 2005. The article raised questions about Flanagan's ability to serve effectively as a lawmaker.