Report: Texas senator denies sexting, but won’t say who did
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas state senator accused of sending sexually explicit texts to a graduate student won’t identify the person he says is actually responsible for the messages, which were sent through an app called Hushed, according to findings released by the university Tuesday.
The report concluded that Republican state Sen. Charles Schwertner didn’t violate University of Texas policies based on “available evidence.” Investigators added, however, that the lawmaker didn’t fully cooperate, and raised the possibility that the unknown person who claimed responsibility could be being “untruthful or does not exist.”
Schwertner, who was re-elected in November, did not address that unknown person or their relationship to him in a statement released Tuesday through his attorneys.
“I do not condone sexual misconduct of any kind. The University of Texas has closed their investigation because I did not send the offensive text messages in question. I appreciate the steadfast support of my family, friends and voters who believed in and re-elected me just weeks ago,” he said.
The report was signed by former U.S. attorney Johnny Sutton, who the university hired to investigate because the graduate student and Schwertner, 48, met at an on-campus event. Schwertner is identified in the report as the “Respondent.”
“Respondent has access to information that could allow a more definitive conclusion to this matter, but the Respondent is unwilling to share that information, and the University lacks authority to compel him to cooperate more fully,” the report stated.
The messages sent to the student included “Send a pic?” He then said he wanted to have sex with her. The report also says she received a nude photo with the head cropped out of the picture.
At one point, the student responded: “Please stop, this is unprofessional. I’m a student interested in learning about Healthcare Policy. These advances are unwarranted.”
Schwertner’s attorneys told investigators that the lawmaker shared his username and password for the Hushed app and the networking site LinkedIn with another person but wouldn’t say who, according to the report. An attorney for that unknown person then told investigators that their client sent the texts without Schwertner’s knowledge, according to the report, but that the attorney wouldn’t disclose their client’s relationship to Schwertner or why the texts were sent.
Schwertner was first elected in 2010 and is the chairman of the Senate’s health and human services committee. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Texas Senate, said in September that he was “deeply concerned about the serious allegations” but would await the conclusions of the school investigation.
Spokesman Alejandro Garcia said Tuesday that Patrick is now reviewing the materials released by the university.
Like many statehouses across the country, the Texas Legislature recently strengthened sexual harassment policies amid a mounting nationwide backlash against misbehavior by those in power. Last year, the longtime secretary of the Texas Senate testified that she had never received a sexual harassment complaint against a lawmaker.
Republican state Sen. Lois Kolkhort said at the time that the former policies were so ambiguous that even she would have been hesitant to come forward with a complaint.
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