House page, parents say furor over hug is overblown
Posted May 23, 2009 7:32 p.m. EDT
Updated May 24, 2009 6:54 a.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — The page hugged by state Rep. Cary Allred says the Alamance County legislator is a family friend.
Several Republican colleagues recently spoke poorly of Allred's conduct, particularly his embrace of the 17-year-old page on the House floor last month. Allred said he did nothing wrong.
“He just came up to me, gave me a hug and said, 'I'm so proud of you,'” page Michelle Mann said as she recalled the incident.
Michelle Mann said Allred told her he loved her and kissed her on the cheek. Other lawmakers, many of them Republicans, complained about the incident, saying Allred had been drinking and was behaving erratically.
“I was pretty angry by the responses from Republican colleagues about my, what they called, inappropriate behavior,” Allred said.
Allred said he had one alcoholic drink but was not drunk. As for Michelle Mann, he said she is like a granddaughter to him. Her parents agreed.
“I was just surprised at how quickly it escalated just to the point of absurdity,” said Crystal Mann, Michelle's mother.
“The House police actually pulled me out, pulled me in their office and said you're 17-years-old, a minor under 18, and we just want to make sure it's okay with you to talk to him and it's okay with your family,” Michelle Mann said.
Allred said he considered switching his voter registration from the GOP to unaffiliated after the incident. But Allred says now he just wants to move on from the incident.
“There are much more serious problems to be considered,” he said. “I am sorry for the misconception, and the impression that my colleagues received, but they don't understand. They don't know the truth."
Earlier on the day in question, Allred was pulled over by a trooper while driving to the Legislature. The state Highway Patrol charged him with driving 102 mph in a 65 mph zone.