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August 18, 2009

Police Probe Flanagan Charges

F-ContinuingEd1 State Sen. Ed Flanagan is under criminal investigation for allegedly masturbating in front of patrons in the Men’s Wellness Center at the Greater Burlington YMCA.

“Fair Game” first reported the incident last month, when YMCA member Tiki Archambeau filed a complaint about Flanagan with Y officials. “Fair Game” also talked to other patrons who had witnessed bizarre behavior on Flanagan’s part. The former state auditor has denied the charges, but apologized for anything he did while naked that may have been misconstrued by others.

A formal complaint about Flanagan’s behavior was filed last Friday with Burlington police.

Contacted by Seven Days, Archambeau said he had spoken to an investigator from the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigation on Tuesday afternoon. He declined to elaborate on the nature of the CUSI investigation.

Flanagan’s membership was suspended during the Y’s investigation. Flanagan said he plans to find another gym and never return to the Y. Numerous calls to the senator about the criminal probe were not returned by late this afternoon.

The YMCA has declined to say publicly whether it has completed its investigation — nor will it share any details when the inquiry is over. According to one former employee, some YMCA officials had been made aware of Flanagan's behavior.

A formal police probe has the potential to be more illuminating. It could reveal whether Flanagan’s behavior is connected to the traumatic brain injury he suffered in 2005 — an injury that some observers fear may be affecting his judgment.

But a criminal investigation is not likely to help Flanagan’s chances of winning higher office, let alone reelection.

I worked the front desk at the Y for a time, and a warning to watch out for this type of thing was included in my training. Apparently masturbation and gay sex are not uncommon in the men's locker room, even among those without brain injuries.

I also worked as an assistant day camp councilor at the Y responsible for getting up to six boys at a time safely though the showers and locker room there. Not an easy task. I don't know why the media is so quick to emphasize that it's an "adult only" facility. To my knowledge that's false.

The brain injury thing is just an excuse and a poor one at that. If Flanagan's judgment is so badly affected by his injury, then he obviously shouldn't be a senator. Enough with the coddling of this man. Shame, decency, personal responsibility and common sense should have already compelled Flanagan's resignation.

Thanks for the comments, Haik.

To clarify — the incident(s) in question occurred in the Men's Wellness Center, not the general locker room (where kids are allowed). The Men's Wellness Center is, in fact, for adults only and is accessible only through a separate, locked entryway. Y members pay an extra fee to access these areas (there is one for women, too).

Also, to not be accused of liberal media bias by an outside organization (See link:, Flanagan is a Democrat.

"Wellness Center." That's ironic. I figured it was something like that.

Regardless. Nobody's perfect, and I'm not about to judge Flanagan's soul, but his political efficacy I'm entitled to judge. People make mistakes and this is one of them. In my estimation the consequence of this is that his political career is over now.

Newsbusters is mildly interesting, but their take-away about Flanagan's party affiliation being buried by the media is wholly irrelevant. His party affiliation is itself wholly irrelevant. I haven't heard the media mention the fact that he's white either. So what? The issue is his being a senator. He can continue to be white and be a Democrat after he's not a state senator and nobody will care.

Haik - I would guess that if not the majority, close to it of those men having "gay sex" would not classify themselves as gay. After they leave the Y they'll go home to their female wife/spouse/partner/girlfriend.

Uh oh. Sounds like somebody's been burned by a switch hitter.

Not burnt - just aged. And I prefer to call them swish-hitters.

I suggest it be discussed at the next hamburger summit at Clarendon Gorge. No wives allowed, please.

It is time to let the poor guy figure out his own struggle. Move on to the real issues of the world and state. This one will solve itself next November.

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