Women say Macomb prosecutor Lucido should quit over 'inappropriate' behavior

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

A group of Macomb County women called Tuesday for Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido to resign, arguing he is unfit because of “inappropriate workplace behavior” and association with “sexual predators and their defenders.”

Three representatives of the Macomb Accountability Project, a self-described grassroots organization, called for the former state lawmaker to step down during a virtual news conference.

Peter Lucido

“We are calling for Peter Lucido to resign,” said one of the women, Emily Mellits of Washington Township.

“… We will not be silent any longer,” she said. “Enough is enough.”

Lucido, who faced multiple accusations of sexual harassment while serving in the state Senate, described the group's effort against him Tuesday as "disingenuous and a ploy."

"Why hold a press conference now over a petition they filed four months ago? Why did they just file their names this month?" he said. "I don't know any of them but they have skewered the facts and are being very misleading.

"I don't do criminal checks on everyone who wants to support me," Lucido said. "I don't know of any one who does. That is not a requirement. Some of this other stuff is just nonsense. And frankly, bordering on being slanderous."

 Lucido has never been criminally charged with any offenses, he said, yet the accusations have followed him to the prosecutor’s office, which he assumed in January after being elected in November. Among them:

--In 2020, a female reporter accused Lucido, then a state senator, of making lewd and suggestive remarks in front of male students.

-- A female senator claimed Lucido groped and degraded her during an orientation of new legislator,s and a Lansing lobbyist said Lucido inappropriately touched her during a meeting.

--In March 2021, Lisa McCormick — now an Ingham County circuit judge — said Lucido inappropriately touched her in 2019 during a meeting with lawmakers regarding her appointment as director of the Michigan Office of Children’s Ombudsman.

McCormick later said she didn’t “make a complaint when it happened because my future and my appointment was in his hands and the committee’s hands.”

A state Senate committee, including fellow Republicans, investigated the above accusations and found Lucido engaged in “inappropriate workplace behavior” that “demonstrates an unfortunate pattern of behavior.” They removed Lucido as chair of one of his committees and required him to take a class in workplace behavior and sexual harassment.

"Their report also found they were unable to substantiate the allegations made," Lucido said. "But because there were several grouped around the same time, there was a feeling there must have been something to them."

Lucido, 60, of Shelby Township, ran for prosecutor last year, saying he planned to restore public confidence in the office and “turn it around” in the wake of criminal charges against former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith.

In their call for Lucido to resign as prosecutor, the spokeswomen for the Macomb Accountability group — Mellits, Kristina Lodovisi of Warren and Carmi Finn of Warren — also said Lucido used a convicted child sexual predator, Anthony M. Messina, as a spokesperson for his investigation of nursing home deaths, and received campaign contributions from an attorney, Nicole Blank Becker, who specializes in defending people accused of sex crimes.

“Anyone with so many sexual predators and those that defend them at his side shouldn’t be trusted as Macomb County Prosecutor,” said Lodovisi. “Macomb County families expect and deserve leaders we can hold up as examples of good judgment and honorable behavior."

Finn said the multiple accusations regarding Lucido and his associations “fit a pattern of gross misconduct that would disqualify most people for a government job paid with taxpayer dollars.”

In an interview Tuesday, Messina confirmed he was convicted of sexually assaulting boys and served eight years in prison, saying he was released more than nine years ago and has had no further problems with the law: “I’m a different man today.” 

Messina said he contacted the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office last month after learning of questions being raised about nursing home deaths.

“My sister died in a nursing home and I wanted to know more,” Messina said, adding he dropped off a death report with the police department in Warren, where the nursing home is located. He said he had been interviewed by reporters about his sister’s nursing home death.

“I’ve had my own trouble in the past and paid for it,” he said. “I have no connection with Lucido — I actually thought Mary Chrzanowski had been elected prosecutor. 

“I wish somebody could tell me what any of this has to do with me wanting to learn more about my sister’s death.”

Becker did not respond to phone or email messages for comment. According to campaign finance records reviewed by the Accountability group, Becker raised more than $17,200 for Lucido’s campaign, including $4,250 of her own money.

Lucido said he was not aware of her involvement in defending people charged with sex offenses. He said attorneys who handle criminal defense work “have every right” to contribute to lawmakers, judges and others and criticized the group of women for objecting.

“I think they have taken things out of context and misstated facts,” Lucido said.

The members of the Macomb Accountablity Group said they have collected 1,200 signatures calling for Lucido’s resignation.

"I looked at the signatures and some of the people don't even live in this county," Lucido said. "I have no intention of stepping down. And I would hope people look carefully at what this group is saying and not rush to judgment."

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

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