Why a Colorado lawmaker went public with sexual harassment allegations against a fellow lawmaker
Colorado state Rep. Faith Winter has accused fellow Democratic Rep. Steve Lebsock of sexually harassing her
The Denver Post
Just after midnight, at a bar near the state Capitol, a state lawmaker says Rep. Steve Lebsock discussed sexual acts and tried to grab her by the elbow and get her to leave with him.
“I told him no. I told him he needed to leave,” state Rep. Faith Winter, a Westminster Democrat, told The Denver Post in an interview Friday. “I told him he needed to go home. He started grabbing my elbow. He was trying to get me to go out of the bar. He was very angry.”
The alleged sexual harassment occurred in May 2016 as lawmakers celebrated the end of the legislative session at what is known as the Sine Die Party at Stoney’s Bar and Grill in downtown Denver.
The tense encounter ended when another lawmaker intervened, but the story remained hushed until Winter came forward Friday, the latest in an ever-growing list of men and women who are confronting their assailants across the country as part of the #MeToo movement.
Lebsock, a 47-year-old Thornton Democrat, apologized for his behavior but said he does not remember making the comments and was drinking heavily at the party. He denied trying to grab her by the elbow.
“I’m extremely sorry that Rep. Winter has been hurt, but I can also say honestly that I do not remember ever saying anything inappropriate to Rep. Winter (that night),” he said in an interview.
Two more women came forward hours later, putting their names to accusations that Lebsock made unwanted sexual advances toward them at political events and meetings. House Speaker Crisanta Duran and other prominent Democrats urged Lebsock to resign. He declined and called on his accusers to make a formal complaint.
“The people of Colorado are tired of dirty politics and tired of anything that appears underhanded or out of bounds (and) will not be accepted by our citizens,” he said in a statement. “We should take these accusations seriously, and through the normal legal channels.”
The mounting accusations add to the questions about what happened after Winter’s encounter as Lebsock rose to committee chairman and now a candidate for state treasurer. The details are just now emerging.
What happened at the party
The state House adjourned at 10:42 p.m. on May 11, 2016, ending the 120-day session. Soon, lawmakers, lobbyists, staffers and reporters filtered down to Stoney’s with a mix of exhaustion and relief to loosen ties and grab drinks.
Read the full story in The Denver Post.
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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has tested positive for the coronavirus. Polis and his partner, Marlon Reis, both have COVID-19 and are asymptomatic, the governor said in a statement Saturday night.