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Attorney says she talked to woman who made claim against Sherrod Brown 

Update:

A Canton attorney says she has talked to a woman who alleges U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, “roughly” pushed her against a wall while making a sexual advance after he was divorced in the late 1980s.

The attorney, Laura Mills, is a managing partner in the Canton law firm Mills, Mills, Fiely & Lucas.  

Mills would not identify the woman and says “it did stop after she expressed dismay and very firmly pulled away.”

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Brown’s Republican opponent in the Nov. 6 election, Jim Renacci, said this week that he has heard from multiple women accusing Brown of assault.

Brown has vehemently denied the allegation, telling the Dayton Daily News on Thursday, “Renacci should be ashamed of this.”

Renacci told media organizations that he referred the allegations to an attorney he would not name. Mills late Thursday acknowledged that she is the attorney. 

“I have received consent from one of the women to make a statement,” she said. “She met Sherrod Brown in the course of  her work and had occasion to be briefly alone with him, but not on a date.”

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Of the alleged encounter she wrote: “Although she was able to defuse the situation, it did shake her up...” She added: “The woman desires to be anonymous and I will not disclose her name or any further information on her behalf.”

Renacci on Thursday told Tom Roten of WVHU Radio in Huntington, W. Va., that the accusations from the women who allegedly contacted his office were “unsubstantiated.”

Original story:

Sen. Sherrod Brown fought back Thursday against unsubstantiated claims from GOP opponent Congressman Jim Renacci that the Republican’s campaign has heard from “multiple women” accusing the Democratic U.S. senator of assault.

“It’s absolutely untrue,” Brown told the Dayton Daily News in an interview. “… Renacci should be ashamed of this. He’s clearly a desperate candidate just doing whatever he can do to upend everything. There’s no truth to those.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported this week that Renacci, R-Wadsworth, told the newspaper’s editorial board “multiple women” contacted him alleging assault by Brown between 1987 and 2004. The newspaper reported Renacci “didn’t provide any proof or specifics” and said he referred the women to an attorney specializing in domestic abuse, but would not name the lawyer.

“It’s more than one instance,” Renacci told the Enquirer. “That makes it even worse.”

In an email, the Dayton Daily News requested Renacci’s campaign provide victim and witness names, dates, times and places of the alleged assaults, and the name of the attorney he reportedly recommended. The campaign said it would respond to the newspaper, but has not.

Renacci on Thursday appeared to back off his charges when he told Tom Roten of WVHU Radio in Huntington, W. Va., that the accusations were “unsubstantiated.”

Renacci said, “We have had a couple of people contact the office,” and he turned the charges over to an attorney.

As part of his campaign, Renacci has revived issues from Brown’s 1986 divorce.

During that divorce, Brown’s former wife Larke Recchie filed a restraining order against him after an incident in which she accused him of entering her house by shoving her to the side. An affidavit in the divorce reported that on numerous occasions, Brown “intimidated, pushed, shoved and bullied” her.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported in 1992 that Brown’s congressional opponent released an ad with a female narrator reading from Recchie’s 1986 affidavit, “I am in fear for the safety of myself and my children because of (Brown’s) physical violence and abusive nature, he has completely destroyed my peace of mind.”

When Republicans rolled out the attack in 1992, Recchie was quoted as saying: “Divorce can often be an unfriendly ordeal, and ours was no exception. There was a lot of hurt on both sides, and it led only to angry words.” Last month, Recchie put out a statement saying the use of their divorce records for a political campaign was “shameless” and “disgusting.”

“Anyone who suggests he is not an honorable man is just wrong,” she said.

On Thursday, Brown said Recchie “speaks for herself and she doesn’t want to talk about it. She isn’t going to hold a news conference and talk about it. I insist I’ve done nothing wrong in terms of that.”

Renacci has said that while he acknowledges Recchie has forgiven Brown, she has not recanted the allegations in her affidavit.

During the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused by a high school peer of sexual assault, Renacci said that “without corroborative evidence, our nation’s constitution affords the presumption of innocence and I believe that is what we must consider” in Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

The Dayton Daily News asked Renacci’s campaign whether Brown should be given the same presumption of innocence he gave Kavanaugh. The campaign has not responded.

Staff Writers Jack Torry and Jessica Wehrman contributed reporting from Washington. Contact Staff Writer Will Garbe at will.garbe@coxinc.com.

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