In wake of charges, Sen. Darius Brown loses chairmanship of Senate Judiciary Committee
State Sen. Darius Brown has been stripped of his leadership role over the Senate Judiciary Committee after being charged with offensive touching and disorderly conduct.
Senate President Pro Tempore David Sokola, D-Newark, announced the removal of the Wilmington Democrat as the committee chair in a press release on Thursday.
“Yesterday, I shared with Senator Brown that, effective immediately, I would be removing him from his Chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee," Sokola's statement said. "I believe this step is necessary to allow the Committee to continue its critical work without distraction.”
Sen. Kyle Evans Gay, D-Talleyville, will preside over the committee going forward, the release said.
Delaware State Police say that Brown, a former Wilmington city councilman, punched an acquaintance and threw a glass of water at Taverna Rustic Italian Restaurant in Talleyville on Sunday.
The Delaware Republican Party has called on Brown to resign.
“The behavior that has been reported, if true, is reprehensible and warrants his resignation,” said Delaware GOP Chairwoman Jane Brady in a statement on Thursday. “If Senator Brown refuses to resign, we call on the Senate to conduct an inquiry and expel him for conduct unbecoming an elected official.”
In a text to Delaware Online/The News Journal, Brown called the development a "distraction." He did not immediately answer a question of whether he has considered resigning.
"This is all designed to be a distraction from the progress that has been made," Brown wrote in a text. "Our progress will continue this legislative session."
In a statement, the Democratic Party said it will not comment on an active criminal investigation and "will wait for more information."
"However, we take allegations of domestic violence very seriously and will not tolerate it from anyone, especially our standard bearers," wrote Democratic Party spokesperson Sarah Fulton in an email.
Brown was present for the Senate floor debate at Legislative Hall in Dover on Thursday.
Brown was elected to the General Assembly in 2018 as the District 2 senator. Since then, he has been one of the Statehouse's champions of criminal justice reform and racial equity.
In 2019, he voted to pass a bill that expanded the types of offenses that can be expunged after a certain amount of time.
This year, he is sponsoring bills mandating body cameras for police officers and automating the expungement process.
In December, Rep. Andria Bennett, D-Dover, was arrested and charged for misdemeanor third-degree assault after police responded to a report of a dispute.
Charges were dropped in February — just a few weeks into the legislative session — at the victim's request, according to the state Department of Justice. Bennett did not face repercussions as a lawmaker such as losing a committee assignment, according to a House spokesman.
On Wednesday, Senate President Pro Tempore Sokola addressed Brown's arrest, saying accusations of domestic violence "are serious and in direct conflict with the values of the Delaware Senate Democratic Caucus."
"However, a presumption of innocence is one of the most sacred principles in the American criminal justice system," Sokola said. "I will carefully consider whether any formal actions are warranted in the coming days as we learn more about this incident.”
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Reporter Jeffrey Neiburg contributed to this story.
Sarah Gamard covers government and politics for Delaware Online/The News Journal. Reach her at (302) 324-2281 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @SarahGamard.