Group blasts Macomb County prosecutor Lucido's photo with his hand on woman

Mike Martindale and Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido, who has been accused of inappropriate contact with women in the past, is facing renewed controversy over an online photo that shows him with his hand on a woman's behind.

Macomb County Prosecutor Pete Lucido’s campaign Facebook page, taken on July 29 during a birthday celebration-fundraiser at Palazzo Grande in Shelby Township, shows Lucido in the center.

The photo was among many the former Republican state senator posted last week on the Facebook page for his campaign fundraiser. Lucido called the scrutiny over the photo "frivolous political attacks.”

According to the page, Lucido hosted a birthday celebration and fundraiser Thursday night at the Palazzo Grande in Shelby Township.

Michigan Advance, the nonprofit news site, first wrote about the photo in a blog Monday.

Area musician Ralphe Armstrong's Facebook page also shared the photo, with a post that said Armstrong and his daughter appeared in the photo with Lucido. His daughter could not be reached.

Shortly after the photo appeared on Lucido's page, the group Macomb Accountability Project, which opposes the prosecutor, wrote on its Facebook page: "You’d think someone with 4 sexual harassment complaints would watch their hands."

In a statement emailed to The Detroit News on Monday, Lucido said: “It is extremely disappointing that it appears the Michigan Advance and so-called "Macomb Accountability Project" are seeking to sexualize normal contact between individuals in a widely attended social situation."

Armstrong also criticized the group's characterization on Facebook on Monday.

"This man is like A Uncle to my Daughter! They Are saying he Touched her inappropriately !!" he wrote. "That’s [B.S.]! They are Trying to Destroy a Good Human Being using my Daughter!! I Have known his family for over 40 years!"

Armstrong did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night.

In 2020, Lucido was removed as chairman of the Senate's Advice and Consent Committee after a Senate Business Office investigation into allegations of sexual harassment found evidence he exhibited "inappropriate workplace behavior."

The investigation followed allegations from a Michigan Advance reporter that Lucido made inappropriate comments to her. Other women came forward shortly after to allege similar harassment.

Lucido has said he had not sexually harassed anyone and noted that the Senate investigation found the allegations could not be "unequivocally substantiated." 

Peter Lucido

In a statement Monday, officials with the Macomb Accountability Project said they "were disgusted to see the arrogance of an elected official behaving in such a way at a public event for his birthday."

The group said that Lucido posting the picture online "shows you he has no fear of repercussion for his actions. He clearly saw nothing wrong with the picture. He shows that he doesn't understand it on a personal level, so how can women trust that he understands predatory behavior and harassment as a prosecutor?"

Lucido, in his response to The News, called the Michigan Advance "a self-described organization with a highly progressive political view that ideologically differs from me, has been pushing a narrative to politically oppose me by sexualizing normal social interactions for more than one year."

Lucido added: “... I am especially concerned that the Michigan Advance may be coordinating its political attacks with the "Macomb Accountability Project" which has been functioning like an unregistered political action committee in opposing me."

He shared similar remarks on the Macomb Accountability Project's Facebook post showing the picture.

The group responded: "Peter Lucido that’s not “normal” physical contact, family friend or not. A state legislator that was the cause of the Michigan Senate updating their sexual harassment policy should know that." 

Lucido practiced criminal defense in Macomb County for nearly three decades before his election to the state House of Representatives in 2015. In 2018, he was elected to the Michigan Senate, where he chaired the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee and Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. 

In November, he defeated Democratic former judge Mary Chrzanowski in the race to replace disgraced former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith. 

The race emerged as Macomb County's highest-profile contest in the wake of charges against Smith, a Democrat who resigned in March 2020 after he and three others were accused of participating in a scheme to misuse $600,000 in forfeiture funds seized in drug and drunken driving cases between 2012 and 2018.

“I am gratified that the majority of voters in Macomb County chose me during the 2020 Election to serve as Prosecutor Attorney. I realize that I did not receive all the votes of citizens, but every day I strive to earn everyone's respect by being a Prosecuting Attorney who serves the cause of pursuing justice for all while protecting the public," Lucido said Monday.

“The time for politics is over, and I am completely focused on providing the best possible public services to the residents and businesses of Macomb County.  I will not be distracted from this mission by these frivolous political attacks.”

In another statement late Monday, Emily Mellits, a lead organizer with the Macomb Accountability Project, rejected Lucido's position and supported those who accused him of inappropriate contact.

"The Macomb Accountability Project renews its call for Pete Lucido to resign and for anyone who’s been a victim of at the hands of Pete Lucido to come forward," she wrote. "No one who does such things to women should be the people’s prosecutor, in fact, they should be prosecuted by the people."