Senate releases report on harassment complaint against LeVota

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Senate Administration Committee, along with an independent investigator and legal counsel from the University of Central Missouri, released findings today on a workplace harassment accusation leveled against Sen. Paul LeVota by an intern.

The report which was released in full today, details accusations from an UCM intern that claim the Kansas City Democrat sent her inappropriate text messages and made sexual advances toward her after inviting her into his Jefferson City duplex.

The report does not include the name of the intern in question, who was in LeVota’s office from January of last year until the middle of March, when a professor overseeing the capitol intern program ended her internship after learning of the allegations.

The intern — who is of legal drinking age — claims that on January 26 of this year she, LeVota, and his chief of staff left Gumbo Bottoms, a bar in Jefferson City, for LeVota’s office. Soon LeVota and the intern were alone and the senator offered to let her sleep at his duplex so she wouldn’t have to make a drive back to Fulton, where she was staying.

The intern claims that once she arrived at LeVota’s duplex, the senator made derogatory remarks about her boyfriend and stated “If you want to sleep with me tonight, I won’t tell you no.”

The report goes on to say that the intern did not believe she was the victim of criminal behavior and that she also received text messages from the senator on weekends and during non-work hours about her whereabouts or social plans.

LeVota denies both having the intern in his duplex or sending her text messages outside of work, other than inquiring at one time when she was gone due to an illness. The intern no longer had any of the text messages, and LeVota declined a forensic examination of his phone, citing privacy concerns. However, the intern was able to give a description of the interior layout of LeVota’s duplex, including the color of the couch she claims to have slept on that evening.

The report says that after the intern reported the incident to LeVota’s chief of staff, Ron Berry, she felt she was the victim of “retaliation.” The intern claims she was deprived of one-on-one meetings with the senator and no longer assigned work on a piece of legislation she had worked on earlier in the year. The report, though, states that it is “difficult to objectively quantify” a change in the intern’s work assignments based on interviews with witnesses.

All of the information in the report was presented to the Senate Administration Committee earlier this month. Sen. Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, who chairs the committee, opted to release the report in full.

“Since the matter in question involves an official elected by the public, the committee decided it was appropriate to release the independent investigator’s report to the public and to all members of the Missouri Senate for their consideration,” Dempsey said in a statement.

That statement from Dempsey came with a literal footnote. At the bottom of the page, it reads:

“Under Art. III, Section 18 of the Missouri State Constitution, the entire Missouri Senate is charged with responsibility for the discipline of its own members.”

The Administration Committee also said that, because the investigation is now closed, all inquiries should be directed to LeVota’s office.

Collin Reischman is the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. To contact Collin, email collin@themissouritimes.com or via Twitter at @CMReischman