In a Facebook message and press release today, Senator Paul LeVota (D-Independence) says he’s resigning from the Missouri Legislature following accusations of sexual misconduct by two interns. He continues to deny the allegations, but says he “will not put my family, myself, or the senate through the process of dealing with the veracity of false allegations and character assassination against me.”
LeVota’s resignation comes after a Senate report released to the press this week detailing allegations of sexual misconduct by a University of Central Missouri student intern who served in his office this year. The female student claimed she experienced a pattern of sexual harassment including unwelcome text messages and explicit requests for sexual activity. The report said that when she informed LeVota’s chief of staff about the matter she believed she “was subject to retaliation.”
Records of the text messages were not available from either party. The intern said she no longer had the phone and LeVota would not turn over his citing “privacy concerns about personal information on his telephone.”
The intern says she received two sexual advances from LeVota on January 26. After having a few drinks at an event in Jefferson City the student claims that LeVota encouraged her to come his apartment instead of driving to her residence in Fulton. While at his apartment she claims that LeVota said, “If you want to sleep with me tonight, I won’t tell you no.” She told investigators that she turned him down and LeVota apologized but “continued acting in a flirtatious manner.” She said he also made derogatory comments about the intern’s boyfriend and joked about his anatomy.
The student says she slept on the couch at his residence but says there was no physical contact. LeVota denies she was ever there, though she described to investigators the inside of his apartment including the color of the couch.
After that January evening, the intern told investigators, she became the subject of retaliation by LeVota and was not included in workplace projects.
In a statement from Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles) Thursday, he says “since the release of Wednesday’s Workplace Harassment Report, new information has come to light which bears further investigation by the Senate.” He went on to say that LeVota has been removed from the Senate’s Rules and Ethics Committee.
Following Dempsey’s press release, it was learned that the Kansas City Star reported Thursday that a second former intern who served in his office in 2010 claims he also propositioned her. LeVota also denied those allegations. Calls made to LeVota’s office by Missourinet have not been returned.
In a statement from Governor Jay Nixon today, he says he has not received a formal letter of resignation, but says “This is a necessary step and is in the best interests of his constituents.”
Nixon can call a special election to fill LeVota’s Senate seat. His term would have ended next year.
LeVota’s resignation is effective August 23, 2015. LeVota is married with two daughters.
See LeVota’s full statement here: LeVota – State Senator Resigns