Many individuals have come forward with sexual harassment allegations against notable and powerful individuals in recent months.
According to The Denver Post, the most recent allegations are directed at a Colorado lawmaker. It’s Rep. Steve Lebsock (D), and women have come forward with allegations that he sexually harassed them.
Rep. Faith Winter (D), told reporters that she rejected Rep. Lebsock’s aggressive advances in May of 2016. She says they were at a bar celebrating a legislative matter when he began trying to solicit sexual favors. “He used explicit and suggestive language about how happy we could make each other and didn’t we deserve to be happy — it was in the end of session,” she claimed.
She said she rejected the advances firmly and Rep. Lebsock responded aggressively: “I told him no. I told him he needed to leave. I told him he needed to go home. He started grabbing my elbow. He was trying to get me to go out of the bar. He was very angry.”
Fortunately for Rep. Winter, the situation ended when Rep. Alec Garnett (D-CO), intervened. Yet the story would remain quiet until Rep. Winter decided to come forward Friday with her story of sexual harassment, part of a growing movement called #MeToo.
Rep. Lebsock denied the encounter, saying he couldn’t remember the event and had been drinking rather heavily at the party: “I’m extremely sorry that Rep. Winter has been hurt, but I can also say honestly that I do not remember ever saying anything inappropriate to Rep. Winter (that night).”
Rep. Winter isn’t alone in making these allegations against Rep. Lebsock. At least two other women have come forward with stories of their own encounters with the Representative.
Holly Tarry, a former lobbyist for animal welfare, said she also rejected advances by Lebsock on multiple occasions over a span of 3 years. Regarding the constant harassment, she said, “Our relationship was one where I was constantly pushing back on him, saying, ‘You can’t talk to me that way.’”
She eventually quit her job to avoid the harassment, saying it was “because of that kind of treatment, and not just from him,” referring to a seedy culture at the Capitol.
Another alleged victim, Cassie Tanner, was harassed by Rep. Lebsock at a bar while she was working with a Democrat politician in 2014. She claims that Rep. Lebsock suddenly unbuttoned the top button of her blouse saying something along the lines of “That’s better.”
In light of the accusations, House Speaker Crisanta Duran and other Democrats recommended that Rep. Lebsock resign. He refused, stating that his accusers need to file a formal complaint and follow “normal legal channels.”
There has been a rash of sexual harassment allegations against politicians in recent years. Does the political culture lend itself to an atmosphere of sexual aggression?
Rep. Lebsock claims that the allegations are merely “dirty politics” meant to slander his character: “The people of Colorado are tired of dirty politics and tired of anything that appears underhanded or out of bounds (and) will not be accepted by our citizens. We should take these accusations seriously, and through the normal legal channels.”
These shocking allegations certainly cast doubt on Rep. Lebsock’s character. If determined to be true, Rep. Lebsock should be held accountable for his inappropriate behavior and resign immediately.