MD lawmakers call for review after park manager was indicted on rape charges

Two Maryland lawmakers have called for an independent review of the state Department of Natural Resources’ handling of repeated complaints against the former manager at Gunpowder Falls State Park.

A Baltimore County grand jury indicted former longtime manager Michael Browning Monday on charges that include rape and assault.

The Baltimore Sun reports that state Sen. Sarah Elfreth and Del. Eric Luedtke called for the review in a letter to Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Maryland’s secretary of natural resources.

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“(T)he behavior and lack of accountability described is inexcusable and requires prompt action by the Department to address the issues raised and ensure that a similar situation never happens again,” the letter states.

Maryland lawmakers are seeking a review on how the state Department of Natural Resources handled complaints against a former park manager’s rape indictment.

Baltimore County Police arrested Browning, 71, in September and charged him with sexually assaulting a former park employee. According to charging documents, the woman told police she met Browning as a teenager while attending a youth club his wife ran before working with Browning at the park.

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Police wrote in charging documents that the two had a yearslong consensual relationship. The woman told police that she tried to end the relationship and that Browning raped her 10 to 15 times.

A grand jury indicted Browning on Monday on charges related to alleged attacks on that woman, now in her 20s, and a second woman.

Browning’s attorney, Gary Bernstein, said Browning denies all the charges.

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Gregg Bortz, a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, would not discuss specifics, but said in a statement that the department “assures the public and our employees that we are taking every appropriate step and personnel action within the parameters of the law.”

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