JUNEAU (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles' new legislative director has been charged with harassment over allegations that he inappropriately touched two women.
Dwight Perkins, 47, pleaded innocent in Juneau District Court on Thursday to two charges of harassment, a misdemeanor. He was fingerprinted and ordered not to have contact with his accusers, whose names are confidential under state law.
Perkins served two terms on the Juneau Assembly and is a former deputy commissioner for the Department of Labor. Perkins replaced Pat Pourchot as Knowles' legislative director last month.
Claire Richardson, deputy press secretary for Knowles, said Friday that the governor's policy is zero tolerance for sexual harassment. She said the governor's office learned of the allegations Thursday and that Chief of Staff Jim Ayers is conducting an investigation.
Perkins did not report to work Thursday or Friday.
''I'm still employed,'' he told the Juneau Empire in a telephone interview from his home. ''I just decided to take a long weekend. There has not been any decision to terminate my employment.''
He said he spoke to Ayers on Thursday.
Perkins said that on the advice of his attorney, Thomas Nave, he could not address the substance of the allegations against him. But he called them ''shocking to me.''
''What particularly concerns me is these allegations may operate as an embarrassment to my family, who I love deeply, and my employer, who I respect greatly,'' said Perkins, who is married and has a daughter.
''A lot of people have supported me in this community, and I don't want to lose that trust with my friends and co-workers,'' Perkins said. ''It's a terrible thing, and I'm trying to deal with it as best I can.
According to the complaint, Perkins made an unwanted physical advance toward a woman Oct. 1 while they were opening a building for a meeting.
After the woman commented that she was leaving the organization she was with, Perkins said he hated to see her leave and asked her for a hug, according to the complaint.
The woman said Perkins hugged her but held on for an extended period of time that made her feel uncomfortable. She told police she stepped back but Perkins stepped close, rubbed his body against her, fondled her and said he wanted to have sex with her.
Police collected additional evidence after obtaining a search warrant and electronically monitoring a conversation between Perkins and the woman, according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, a second woman claimed Perkins had improperly touched her between July 1999 and March.
Perkins said he doesn't know if he will fight the charges at a trial.
''I've never been involved in this kind of stuff. ... I don't know where we're going with it,'' he said.
Perkins' next scheduled court appearance is Jan. 2. The maximum penalty for one count of harassment is 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
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