Rep. Dillon Bates, D-Westbrook, is resigning amid allegations of inappropriate relationships with high school students, according to the Maine House speaker. Credit: Ashley L. Conti

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Democratic state representative from Westbrook resigned Monday, reversing a previously stated intent to serve out his term amid allegations of sexual misconduct that he has denied.

Rep. Dillon Bates’ resignation was effective immediately, House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, told legislators in a Monday email. Her office provided an email from Bates calling allegations against him “baseless and false,” but that he didn’t wish to create “distractions” when the Legislature returns to Augusta next week.

“In my time away from the Legislature, I plan to focus on clearing my name,” he wrote.

Gideon asked Bates to resign earlier this month after allegations that he had relationships with high school girls in the past decade were published in The Bollard, a Portland monthly newspaper.

Bates denied the anonymously sourced allegations through his lawyer, Walter McKee, who said earlier this month that his client would serve out his term. Bates declined comment Monday.

He was a teacher at the now-shuttered Maine Girls Academy in Portland through April and he had coached sports at several schools — most recently serving as a track and field coach at Massabesic High School in Waterboro. Bates informed the school that he wouldn’t return to that job and he said earlier this year that he wouldn’t run for re-election.

A Gideon spokeswoman has said the office heard rumors months ago about Bates that it was unable to confirm. Bates also denied them at the time, the office has said. Rep. Paula Sutton, R-Warren, has called for a legislative probe into the allegations.

Sutton said Monday that she was disappointed that Bates didn’t stay in office to face a hearing that could illuminate the allegations. House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, said Bates’ resignation meant that the House “can put this matter behind us.”

Bates’ departure means Democrats hold a 73-70 plurality in the House, with one Green Independent and seven independents.

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Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...