I do not and have never tolerated sexual harassment in the workplace.
This last Monday, the Senate was asked to consider expelling a member of our body because of allegations of sexual harassment.
Justice for victims of sexual harassment is needed, but when the process is flawed, justice cannot be served.
All senators received a copy of the investigation that stated it was “likely credible” that the senator grabbed a woman’s buttocks. The senator accused denied the allegations. In the report, it stated that the senator’s credibility was hindered because he showed anger. That his credibility was hindered because he hired an attorney. That his credibility was hindered because he questioned the investigator’s knowledge of the Capitol layout, the investigator had never been to the Capitol building. I have become angry, hired legal counsel and questioned people’s knowledge. I do not believe this makes one less credible.
Statements from the accuser also conflicted with that of a staff member. When the accuser said she had reported the incident to the staff member, he claims she had not. Claims of sexual harassment do not just get forgotten. The report also claimed twice when this happened, the girl did not look but just knew it was him.
The information brought forward was not clear, did not give facts and weighed the senator in ways that would not, in my opinion, hold up in a court of law. I could not vote yes.
When I first was elected to the House of Representatives, I was faced with a friend of mine being accused of sexual harassment. The evidence brought forward was overwhelming, and I had to ask him to step down. It hurt. I have been through this before and it needs to be addressed and taken care of through a process.
The “process” the senator has been put through has not been fair to him. While the senator has respected the process and stayed quiet as it was occurring, others involved were going to the media. The senator still stayed quiet and respected the process even as accusations were tossed around about him. He stayed quiet when his own son was bullied at school, causing his grades to go from A’s to failing. He stayed quiet as the process quickly turned into a public lynching rather than a judgment of the accusations. In America, people are innocent until proven guilty.
You deserve to know why I voted no. I was in favor of bringing in the District Attorney to investigate the allegations, and I will continue to work for a better process to address these very concerning and serious allegations.
Not only am I fighting to make a better process in the Capitol, but around the state. HB 1234, or the Civil Rape Shield Law, is bipartisan legislation that aims to protect the sexual history of individuals being used to humiliate one during a court proceeding.
These protections are the same ones that are granted in criminal cases already. This bill is part of the larger conversation of how we can create a process that truly brings justice for the men and women who are sexually assaulted or harassed.
Don Coram, R-Montrose, represents State Senate District 6. Contact Sen. Coram at (303) 866-4884 or firstname.lastname@example.org. During the legislative session, Sen. Coram and Rep. Barbara McLachlan share this column on alternate weeks.