Woman Accuses Pol of Trying to Choke Her; No Charges Filed

A woman accused Pennsylvania Rep. Don Sherwood (search) of trying to choke her during an encounter at the congressman's Capitol Hill apartment last fall, but police found insufficient evidence to file charges.

According to the police report, the incident involving Sherwood, 64, a married four-term Republican congressman, and Cynthia Ore (search), 29, of Rockville, Md., occurred on the afternoon of Sept. 15. The officer responding to the call did not arrest anyone, "based on interviews with both parties and no physical evidence of injury" to Ore.

But the officer also noted that "both parties have left out significant information or are not willing to discuss in detail what actually happened."

Ore's complaint against Sherwood was first reported Saturday by the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Times Leader.

Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Joe Gentile said Tuesday there was no probable cause to make an arrest, so a case was not opened. He would not provide information beyond what was in the police report, citing privacy concerns.

Sherwood issued a statement Tuesday evening apologizing for "the pain and embarrassment" he caused his family and supporters. The statement did not explicitly explain his relationship with Ore.

"I'm truly sorry," Sherwood said. "Now, I have work to do. I'm going to continue to work hard for the people of the 10th Congressional District, and to begin the healing process with my family."

The Times Leader said Sherwood described Ore as "an acquaintance." He did not elaborate on why Ore was in his apartment.

"She made an allegation against me which, I say, is absolutely not true," Sherwood told the paper. "The police investigated the allegation and agreed."

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Ore said she met Sherwood at a Young Republicans meeting in 1999 and that they had a relationship that lasted over the years.

"For me to start to go back to that day is very painful to deal with all the suffering I went through," Ore said. "I loved him. He always told me he loved me and I believed him."

According to the police report, Ore called 911 on her cell phone from Sherwood's bathroom and reported that Sherwood had "choked her for no apparent reason." Both parties said he was giving her a back rub, but he said she "jumped up" and ran to the bathroom.

Police said Ore changed her account during an interview with police, saying nothing had happened, but added that the woman "did not seem to be of sound mind," the report said.

"When asked what time the incident happened, she replied she has no idea," the report said.

Sherwood, whose 10th District encompasses parts of northeast and central Pennsylvania, said he's the victim of a political smear.

The Times Leader reported that it learned of the incident from a fax it received from a woman who ran unsuccessfully against Sherwood last fall.