Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tom Ganley, former congressional candidate, indicted on sex charges

Updated 7/15 with dismissal of charges; see below.

Turns out the voters who re-elected Betty Sutton to Congress in November saved us from a national scandal. Sutton's opponent, car dealer Tom Ganley, has been indicted on seven criminal charges stemming from an alleged sexual imposition.

The charges are based on allegations that surfaced in the fall, when the woman Ganley is accused of assaulting filed a lawsuit against him. She claimed she went to Ganley's dealership in Cleveland, hoping to volunteer for his campaign and renegotiate her car loan, and that Ganley propositioned her and groped her.

The charges are newsy, but they'd be ten times bigger if Ganley were in Washington right now. Nothing lights up the political blogosphere than congressional sex scandals -- especially if Republicans get caught with their pants down, since they're more vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy. If Ganley were a congressman, the Internet buzz about his alleged advances would make the "Craigslist congressman" look discreet.

As it stands, if the criminal charges are proven in court, it'd mean Ganley had a foolhardy sense of invincibility: who thinks they can get away with treating a woman like that? And while running for Congress?

From prosecutor Bill Mason's press release this afternoon:

CLEVELAND- Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason announced that Thomas Ganley was indicted by a Grand Jury on 7 counts: three counts of gross sexual imposition (F4), one count of kidnapping (F1), one count of abduction (F3), one count of soliciting (M3), and one count of menacing by stalking (M1).

On August 1, 2009, a then 37-year-old female took her vehicle to be serviced at Ganley Chevrolet located on Lorain Ave., Cleveland. Ganley, 68, of Brecksville, invited the victim to his office, where he solicited her for sex and had sexual contact. He subsequently made several menacing calls to her.

Back in the fall, Ganley's lawyer claimed the lawsuit was an extortion campaign meant to cause political harm. OK, yes, political candidates are especially vulnerable to extortion -- though it's worth noting the alleged victim is reportedly pro-life and a volunteer for Republican campaigns.

Now, Mason, a Democrat, is prosecuting the former Republican candidate. But the Ganley camp is simply saying money motivated the accuser. Ganley's camp is very unlikely to try to play a reverse-Dimora card: One of his lawyers is Steve Dever, who used to be Mason's top trial attorney.

Update, 7/15: Bill Mason's office dismissed the charges against Ganley today. "After further investigating the case of State v Ganley and consulting with the victim, this office made a determination to dismiss the case," assistant prosecutor Blaise Thomas said in a statement. "This decision represents the desire of the victim not to go forward to trial."

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