Colorado Senate President Kevin Grantham on Thursday called on the Denver District Attorney’s office to investigate sexual harassment allegations at the Capitol — and said that some alleged incidents “rise to the level of assault.”
Grantham, a Republican, said he has delivered a formal letter requesting the investigation.
“We take the issues of sexual harassment very serious,” he said during a press conference at the Capitol.
Grantham said any allegations that rose to the level of sexual assault belong in the hands of the district attorney.
“This is not a partisan issue…these are about real problems that rise to the level of assault,” Grantham said.
Grantham’s announcement comes on the eve of a possible expulsion vote for Rep. Steve Lebsock, a Democrat, who is accused of sexually harassing a fellow legislator and two others. Earlier Thursday, House Republicans failed to delay the expulsion vote, 9News reported.
Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, issued a statement Thursday reiterating support for the action in the House of Representatives to address the allegations, but he added that he does not support Grantham’s proposal.
“As I’ve previously stated, in situations such as the ones we’ve been dealing with, a fair investigation by an independent third party should take place before any action is taken,” Hickenlooper said in the statement. “In the case of Rep. Lebsock, an investigation is concluded and the House of Representatives should proceed under the rules it has established.”
Denver District Attorney’s Office Communications Director Ken Lane told Denverite that Grantham’s letter was hand-delivered to the DA’s office earlier in the day.
Grantham’s one-page letter is addressed to District Attorney District Attorney Beth McCann.
“As you are undoubtedly aware, over the last several months, there have been serious allegations made against several members of the Colorado General Assembly where inappropriate conduct obviously unrelated to legitimate legislative activity was alleged to have occurred at the Colorado Capitol and surrounding establishments,” Grantham wrote in the letter.
Grantham wrote in his letter that in the interest of transparency and justice, he’s formally requesting an investigation from the DA’s office.
“I take these allegations and my request to you very seriously,” Grantham writes. “It is my sincere hope that you will look into these matters immediately in the interest of the victims and the public at large.”
Lane said in an email that criminal sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact are, “serious crimes” prosecutable by the state’s district attorneys and attorney general.
Criminal investigation in Denver start with a victim filing a complaint with Denver Police, according to Lane’s email. The department has a specialized sexual assault unit.
“Denver District Attorney sexual assault prosecutors work closely with DPD’s sexual assault detectives in helping to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to warrant the filing of criminal charges,” Lane said in the email. “If so, charges are then filed.”
Lane said the Denver District Attorney’s office, “encourages any victim who wishes to report any criminal sexual misconduct by a state legislator that occurred in Denver to file a complaint with the Denver Police Department.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.