#MeToo Archives - Colorado Politics
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Ernest LuningErnest LuningDecember 15, 201710min1197

Hours after releasing a lie detector test he says debunk claims he sexually harassed a fellow lawmaker, state Rep. Steve Lebsock of Thornton made public his detailed response to a formal complaint filed last month by state Rep. Faith Winter, but the Westminster Democrat dismissed the polygraph as a stunt and said Lebsock’s statements don’t prove anything.


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Jessica MachettaDecember 14, 20173min3380

Lawmakers will meet Dec. 15 at the statehouse to discuss hiring an independent consultant that would manage complaints of sexual harassment in the Capitol.

Formal complaints are currently filed with House or Senate leadership, and though the process ensures confidentiality, some have said concerns about pushback have made them stay silent.

“We have a current reporting system and we have a zero-tolerance policy for such things,” Senate President Kevin Grantham said when complaints first surfaced in November, “but we’re going to have someone come in and see where the holes are, where we can fill the gaps, review and possibly overhaul the way we do things to make it a better system.”

That review will look at best practices, including record keeping, protections against retribution, online reporting, and safeguards to allow patterns of harassment to be detected and handled appropriately.

“This is about working together to address what clearly is a problem,” House Speaker Crisanta Duran said. “I am glad that all four caucuses have agreed to set up a comprehensive review of our harassment policies, and I hope that through this process we can create a welcoming and respectful workplace for everyone.”

The Executive Committee of the Legislative Council includes Grantham, Duran, Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, House Majority Leader KC Becker, Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville.

According to the agenda, the committee will consider hiring a human resources professional. It will also review review the legislature’s existing workplace harassment policy and discuss whether more workplace harassment training is needed for lawmakers and legislative staff.

Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, set off a firestorm when she filed a formal complaint against Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, with Duran’s office alleging Lebsock made sexually crude remarks to her at a gathering at a bar at the end of the 2016 legislative session. KUNC’s Bente Birkland reported that former lobbyist Holly Tarry and former legislative aide Cassie Tanner also accuse Lebsock of behaving inappropriately.

Reps. Paul Rosenthal, D-Denver, Randy Baumgardner, R-Breckenridge, and Jack Tate, R-Centennial, have also been accused of sexual harassment.

All four lawmakers have denied any wrongdoing.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningDecember 14, 201711min15561

A defiant state Rep. Steve Lebsock released a lie detector test Thursday he said proves he’s innocent of accusations he sexually harassed a fellow lawmaker and declared he’s willing to take a polygraph to disprove all other allegations against him. Lebsock also charged the allegations against him, which first surfaced in early November, are politically motivated. The Thornton Democrat said in a statement to Colorado Politics he plans to tour to the state to “shed a bright light on the deep corruption in our political system” while continuing to campaign for state treasurer in next year’s election.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 6, 20174min6844

Rivalry-free bipartisanship was a feature of the #MeToo Leadership Rally Sunday afternoon on the steps of the state Capitol.

Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, and Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, R-Thornton, were among the speakers who joined with advocacy groups to draw attention to sexual harassment and physical assault.

Winter is challenging Martinez Humenik in the Senate District 24 race next year. (First, she will meet Thornton City Councilman Adam Matkowsky in the Democratic primary.)

Winter told Colorado Politics Monday that some issues rise above partisan politics.

“I was proud to stand with my rival for the most competitive Senate seat in the state, Beth Martinez Humenick, to bring much needed attention to #MeToo movement,” she said in an e-mail. “Sexual assault and harassment is blind to politics and blind to economic status. We are all impacted by #MeToo. We all need to take action to change our culture.”

Martinez Humenik said the renewed attention #MeToo, a 10-year-old initiative, is receiving is bringing out more victims and more awareness.

“This issue is not a partisan issue, it is a people issue,” she told Colorado Politics. “Sexual assault knows no socioeconomic boundaries, however, ethnic minorities are most often affected. Often individuals in households with domestic violence are also subject to sexual assault.”

She cited statistics that indicate 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are victims of sexual violence at some point, while less than 10 percent are ever reported.

“Individuals with a lifetime of sexual assault are more likely to have chronic health issues. It is the responsibility of all Coloradans to create an environment in their homes, in our schools, in our faith-based community, in police departments, in medical offices and community organizations where survivors of sexual assault can report sexual assault or harassment,” Martinez Humenik said. “We must continue to inform children, teenagers, adults, and the disabled community members, that it is safe to tell. It is very important to work together to make sure that the stigma, the shame, the fear of telling someone else about a sexual assault or a sexual harassment incident that has occurred is ok, that it must be reported to prevent it from happening to others.

“The fear and stigma of reporting a sexual assault trauma or experiencing sexual harassment must end. There are many organizations and resources available to help victims work through their fear, PTSD or other triggers that cause victims distrust and to struggle on a daily basis as a result of experiencing sexual assault. Every person is important and each individual has a voice. I encourage women and men who are victims to speak up, use your voice so the perpetrators of this violence can be stopped. Blaming victims for their assault will not end sexual assault, however, the behavior of the offenders must and will continue to be addressed in Colorado for the safety and well being of all of our citizens.”