Remarks Calling on District Attorney to Investigate Sexual Harassment Allegations
Today President Grantham and Sherrie Gibson issued the following remarks calling on District Attorney Beth McCann to investigate allegations of sexual harassment in the Capitol:
Kevin Grantham – Colorado Senate President
Good morning everyone. Thank you for joining us for today’s important announcement. I’m joined today by a group of strong, visionary Republican women leaders here in Colorado, including State Senators Beth Martinez Humenik and Vicki Marble, along with members of the House Republican Caucus and leadership from the Colorado Republican Party.
We are here today to address recent reports of alleged sexual misconduct by members of the Colorado legislature.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious problem in the United States and right here in Colorado. It is an infection that has spread across our State Capitol, casting into doubt our ability as lawmakers to represent the kind of democracy our constituents can be proud of. Of even greater concern, some of these allegations appear tantamount to assault.
As representatives of the people of Colorado, elected officials should be held to a higher standard. When allegations of unwanted sexual contact are raised, we have no doubt they should be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted to the furthest extent of the law.
That is why today, we are calling on Denver District Attorney, Beth McCann, to launch a full scale investigation into these allegations of sexual harassment by both Republican and Democrat lawmakers in both chambers of our legislature.
We ask the District Attorney, as the people’s lawyer, to do the job she was elected by the people to do – to step up to the plate, to help us root out the cancer that is sexual harassment both inside and outside the Capitol.
Providing all members of our Capitol community a workplace environment where they can feel safe and respected should not be a partisan issue. It should not be a political issue. It’s simply the right thing to do. Effective harassment prevention efforts, and workplace culture in which harassment is not tolerated, must start with and involve the highest levels of our government.
That is why I am joined today by Republican lawmakers committed to eradicating sexual harassment in the workplace and providing all members of our Capitol community the respect and dignity they deserve.
If evidence is found by the District Attorney to prosecute charges of sexual misconduct by these members of the Colorado legislature and they are found guilty of the allegations, we as Republican lawmakers are prepared to offer resolutions and vote for expulsion of those members from the Colorado legislature.
Any members of the legislature guilty of these very serious violations have no place within the hallowed walls of our democracy and are unfit to represent the good and decent people of Colorado that trusted them with the authority to serve their best interests. In introducing these resolutions, we will ask for House and Senate Democrats to join us in unanimous support of these resolutions for expulsion.
And, our collective efforts will not stop there.
Last November, in coordination with State Senator Beth Martinez Humenik, who is here with us today, Senate Republican lawmakers spearheaded an initiative to begin reforming the legislature’s workplace harassment policy.
As part of this initiative, legislators and staff have already completed workplace harassment prevention training and the legislature’s first ever Human Resources Coordinator, a newly created position, began last month. A comprehensive review of the legislature’s workplace harassment policy is currently underway by the independent Investigations Law Group (ILG), with initial findings and recommendations from the group due early April.
Today, we are announcing additional steps to be taken to reform the legislature’s workplace harassment policy. Beginning immediately, I am directing my staff and membership of the Republican Caucus to undertake work to develop a best-in-the-nation model program to combat and address workplace harassment in the Colorado legislature.
I look forward to welcoming ideas from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in both chambers of the legislature on this critical initiative. It is my desire to see our workplace harassment policy serve as the model for the nation. Drawing from the findings and recommendations from ILG in April, along with independent examination into best practices emanating from public and private sectors, and the latest academic research, we expect to put forth a rigorous workplace harassment program and policy to be voted on by members of both the House and Senate chambers before the end of the legislative session.
We take the issue of sexual harassment very seriously and hope that these proposed expansions to anti-harassment policies and prevention strategies will make all members of our Capitol community feel safe and respected both inside and outside of the Capitol.
With that, I will turn the mic over to Sherrie Gibson, the Vice-Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, for additional remarks on this important call to action.
Sherrie Gibson – Colorado GOP Vice-Chair
Thank you, Mr. President. I’m glad to be here today, as both sexual harassment and sexual assault are serious issues that touch very close to home for me – both as a woman and as a mother of a teenage daughter.
Far too many times, cases of sexual harassment and assault are dismissed or tolerated because of unapologetic attitudes that suggest that a woman holds the responsibility for the behavior perpetrated against her. The harm caused not only by sexual harassment itself, but also by these attitudes that blame victims for the violence perpetrated against them, is tremendous.
I’ve witnessed this first hand, as both my sister and a dear friend are survivors of sexual assault. The assault left them feeling powerless, guilty, and afraid. I can hear the strain of guilt in my sister’s voice any time she recounts her experience, despite the fact that 15 years have passed. Memories of my friend’s sexual assault are triggered by certain places or scents. The assault left her a shell of a woman and she had to teach herself how to take back her life. The stories of these women and others like them who have survived and thrived are truly uplifting. I applaud the President for continuing to take such a strong stance on sexual harassment and sexual assault and look forward to seeing the results of the District Attorney’s investigation.
I’ll now hand the mic over to President to take any questions you might have.