Wilmington HOPE Commission hires Sen. Darius Brown as executive director ahead of trial
The Wilmington HOPE Commission has named Sen. Darius Brown its executive director less than three months before the politician faces a criminal trial.
In May, Delaware State Police charged Brown with offensive touching and disorderly conduct, which are both misdemeanors, after police said the senator punched an acquaintance and threw a glass of water at Taverna Rustic Italian Restaurant. His jury trial is set for Dec. 1.
The HOPE Commission aims to lower recidivism by helping ex-offenders re-enter society after leaving prison. Through a press release, the commission announced on Thursday that Brown will officially assume the position on Monday.
In a statement to Delaware Online/The News Journal, Wilmington HOPE Commission board chair Michelle Taylor said that the commission conducted a "rigorous, extensive search" and Brown "emerged from this process as the most qualified candidate from a strong pool of applicants."
"The Commission is aware of his legal situation, which Mr. Brown is addressing transparently," Taylor said. "The Commission believes that every American has the right to a presumption of innocence.
"Moreover, offering second chances is fundamental to what the Wilmington HOPE Commission does. It is in that spirit that the Commission stands by its selection of Darius Brown as Executive Director."
Brown did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Shortly after his arrest, Senate leadership stripped Brown of his chairmanship over the high-profile Senate Judiciary Committee, which votes on criminal justice-related bills. Leadership then booted Brown from the committee entirely, citing concerns over "potential distractions or conflicts of interest."
Brown, a former Wilmington city councilman, will be "responsible for board management and has direct oversight of the commission’s daily operations, talent management, fiscal operations, fund development and management of community relationships," the group said..
Since he was elected to the Statehouse in 2018, Brown has become a champion for criminal justice reform and racial equity by sponsoring bills to expand and automate the expungement process, write in protections for people of color in the state Constitution and prevent discrimination based on a person's hair, among other legislation.
"As someone with an intimate understanding of Wilmington, who recognizes the challenges facing returning citizens, and who has the experience needed to manage complex programming across a large organization, I am certain that Darius will lead the commission to the next level," Taylor said in a statement included in the press release.
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Sarah Gamard covers government and politics for Delaware Online/The News Journal. Reach her at (302) 324-2281 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @SarahGamard.