Missouri House panel dismisses sexual harassment complaint

2 months 5 days 11 hours ago Friday, May 08 2020 May 8, 2020 Friday, May 08, 2020 1:58:19 PM CDT May 08, 2020 in News
By: The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY - A Missouri House panel has dismissed a sexual harassment complaint against a state lawmaker after an investigation that spanned several months.

Minutes of the Missouri House Ethics Committee obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request show the complaint was dismissed last week but do not identify the accused lawmaker nor describe the allegations.

Under House rules, sexual harassment complaints are confidential and must be investigated by outside legal counsel.

The bipartisan House Ethics Committee was informed that a complaint had been filed in late December, according to meeting minutes. In January, the committee voted to ask the independent investigator to again contact the person making the allegations as well as the accused. Minutes show the committee continued to discuss the complaint in February.

But most legislative work was suspended from mid-March until late April as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus. When the House Ethics Committee met April 29, the complaint was dismissed by a 9-0 vote.

Documents provided to the AP show a St. Louis law firm billed the House more than $7,500 for the investigation of the complaint.

House Ethics Committee minutes show that another complaint is pending before the panel. The identity of that accused lawmaker also remains confidential.

Nationwide, more than 100 state legislators have been publicly accused of sexual harassment or misconduct since the start of 2017, according to an AP tally.

Last year, Democratic Rep. DaRon McGee, of Kansas City, resigned after an investigation into a sexual harassment complaint found he engaged in “ethical misconduct” by sending flirtatious text messages and repeatedly pursuing a relationship with a legislative employee whom he supervised

The House Ethics Committee last year also found that Republican state Rep. Rocky Miller, of Lake Ozark, had engaged in “unbecoming” conduct by creating a false rumor that another lawmaker was having an affair with a House employee. An outside investigation concluded that Miller’s actions weren’t severe enough to qualify as sexual harassment under federal or state law but may have violated the House’s sexual harassment policy. The ethics panel did not recommend any action against Miller.

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