Correction: Sexual Misconduct-Legislatures-Montana story
HAVRE, Mont. (AP) — In a story March 5 about a harassment complaint against a state lawmaker, The Associated Press reported erroneously that former House Speaker Austin Knudsen and Senate President Scott Sales both confirmed the identity of the lawmaker. Sales said he knew who was the subject of the complaint, but did not publicly identify him as Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Montana lawmaker decries being ID’d in harassment complaint
A Montana lawmaker says his constitutional rights have been violated after he was identified as the subject of a harassment complaint by a female legislator
HAVRE, Mont. (AP) — A Montana lawmaker said Tuesday that his constitutional rights were grossly violated when he was identified as the subject of a harassment complaint by a female legislator.
Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, gave a statement to the Havre Daily News that marked his first public comment since The Associated Press reported last month that the lawmaker filed a complaint against him over text messages he sent her in 2017.
Windy Boy said that he believes federal laws may have been violated and that anything taken from privileged private communications can’t be used as evidence against him.
“It’s my hope that this vilification will not happen again, against anybody on either side of the aisle,” he said in the statement. “My legal team will advise me further on this matter.”
Windy Boy’s statement did not address the allegations of harassment or the investigative report that substantiated them. Windy Boy did not answer a phone call, return a text message or respond to an email seeking comment and clarification of his statement.
The AP obtained the investigative report completed in March 2018 that detailed the text messages, including ones calling the recipient “gorgeous” and “a wonderful sight for My Sore Eyes.” In another, the offender responded to the lawmaker’s concerns that she was overstepping boundaries in resolving an issue by saying, “You can step all over me and there is no boundaries.”
The investigator said the offensive conduct was “subtle but evident” and recommended that lawmakers take action before the harassment happens again.
The report released to the AP blacked out the names of the parties. Former House Speaker Austin Knudsen confirmed that Windy Boy was the subject of the complaint.
Knudsen previously told the AP that Windy Boy resigned his position as chairman of the State-Tribal Relations Committee before it could be stripped from him.
The investigative report prompted lawmakers to advance a new policy approved last month that created a confidential system to report and investigate harassment, discrimination and retaliation claims.