By Mahita Gajanan
November 10, 2017

Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran has called on state Rep. Steve Lebsock to step down after a colleague accused him of sexual harassment.

Lebsock is accused of pressuring Democratic state Rep. Faith Winter to have sex with him during a party in 2016 by grabbing her elbow to convince her to leave with him and describing sexual acts to her, The Denver Post reports.

“I told him no. I told him he needed to leave,” Winter told the Post. “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.”

According to the Post, the alleged incident ended after another lawmaker stepped in. Winter decided to come forward with her story after learning that other legislators, lobbyists and government staffers had allegations against Lebsock. The public radio station KUNC published a report Friday counting nine people, including Winter, accusing Lebsock of harassment, intimidation and unwanted sexual advances.

In the wake of the accusations against Lebsock, Duran urged the lawmaker to resign and said she would temporarily take away his chairmanship of the House Local Government Committee.

“I would expect that Representative Lebsock would consider the impact of his actions on his colleagues and the public confidence in our institution and do the right thing and resign,” Duran said in a statement to the Post. “There is no place for those types of actions at the legislature.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper also condemned Lebsock’s alleged actions.

“Today’s news should give us pause to make sure that we have the appropriate protocols in place to investigate and take action on inappropriate conduct,” he said on Twitter. “Women should have the ability to conduct their jobs in politics and government without fear of harassment or retribution.”

Lebsock did not immediately return TIME’s request for comment. In an interview with the Post, he denied harassing Winter and said he did not recall making sexually explicit comments.

“I’m extremely sorry that Rep. Winter has been hurt, but I can also say honestly that I do not remember every saying anything inappropriate to Rep. Winter,” he said, adding: “I can honestly tell you that I do not remember saying anything like that to Faith ever. But in fairness, in complete fairness, we were all drinking. I had had quite a bit to drink that evening, as did most folks there…I can’t say with certainty about every single word that was spoken. I just honestly do not remember saying anything close to that.”

Lebsock, who is currently running for Colorado State Treasurer, is the latest in a string of prominent men who have been publicly accused of sexual misconduct in the wake of sexual harassment and assault allegations against the producer Harvey Weinstein. The accusations have included several lawmakers, including a Minnesota State senator. This week, U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore denied allegations that he initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old when he was 32.

 

 

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