LeVota resigns amid intern controversy

   

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As the details of a Title IX report from by the University of Central Missouri became public following a report from an internal Senate investigation in the state capitol, state senator Paul LeVota, an Independence Democrat, resigned, although without admitting to any wrongdoing or unprofessional behavior.

In a statement, LeVota thanked his supporters and well-wishers and indicates that the “distraction” of the latest news regarding a former intern in his office will prevent him from continuing his legislative work.

LeVota
LeVota

“As I stated before, I did not engage in harassment of any intern in the Missouri Senate and an investigation found no proof of misconduct,” LeVota writes. “However, I will not put my family, myself, or the senate through the process of dealing with the veracity of false allegations and character assassination against me.”

This week, the results of a senate investigation were made public that detailed allegations made by a former UCM intern in LeVota’s office that she was the victim of unwelcomed sexual advances from the married state senator, and that she faced workplace shunning and retaliation when she refused those advances.

While both reports clarify that they cannot quantify any retaliation, they detail an evening last January that ended in the intern being invited back to LeVota’s Jefferson City duplex after having some drinks at a local bar with the senator and his chief of staff. According to both reports, the intern claims LeVota invited her to his place in lieu of the young woman — who was of legal drinking age — driving back to her apartment in Fulton.

After driving separately to his duplex, the intern then claims LeVota made repeated remarks toward her that were sexual in nature. Both reports suggest the intern slept that night on LeVota’s couch.

LeVota flatly denies that the intern was ever in his duplex or sent the young woman any inappropriate text messages, but declined to have his phone examined. The intern provided a description of LeVota’s apartment in both reports, but they do not clarify whether her description has been verified as accurate.

LeVota’s resignation is effective August 23, 2015, and in his statement, he urges Gov. Nixon to call a special election immediately to fill the seat.

Read LeVota’s full statement below.

 

 

To My Friends:

My conduct has been called into question relating to the intern program in the Missouri Senate and even though there has been no proof of any wrongdoing, the media attention is a distraction to doing the people’s work.

As I stated before, I did not engage in harassment of any intern in the Missouri Senate and an investigation found no proof of misconduct. However, I will not put my family, myself, or the senate through the process of dealing with the veracity of false allegations and character assassination against me.

In my entire time as a public official, I have focused on issues to help people like expanding health insurance, raising the minimum wage, and equal pay for all. If anything distracts from my ability to do that work for Missouri, I cannot be as effective as my constituents deserve. With the continuing focus of other issues, I find it difficult to be the best senator that the people elected me to be.

Today , I have tendered my resignation from the Missouri Senate to Senator Tom Dempsey effective August 23, 2015. It is important to finalize all issues in my office and to allow the governor the ability to immediately call for a special election to fill my seat.

It is doubly important as House District 29 is still vacant and needs to be filled. It is imperative that the people of the 11th Senatorial District and the 29th House District have representation in Jefferson City immediately.

I want to thank all of my supporters over my years in public service and I look forward to joining the ranks as a private individual and contribute to my community in that way.

-Sen. Paul LeVota

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