The Latest: Democrats ‘shocked and disappointed’ over report
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on harassment allegations within the Montana Legislature (all times local):
Montana House Democratic leaders say the party’s legislative leaders are “shocked and disappointed” to learn that a member of their caucus harassed another individual.
Friday’s statement released by spokeswoman Monica Robinson is in response to revelations that Democratic Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy of Box Elder sent a female lawmaker harassing text messages in 2017.
An outside investigation substantiated the harassment complaint filed by the female lawmaker and former House Speaker Austin Knudsen confirmed Windy Boy was the subject of the investigation.
Robinson’s statement says Democratic leaders are gathering details about the report. She says the Montana Capitol should be a safe space for everyone who works and visits, and that the report underlines the importance of having a strong sexual harassment policy.
Montana’s former House speaker has identified a lawmaker from Box Elder as the man who sent harassing text messages to another legislator in 2017.
Austin Knudsen said Friday that Democratic Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy voluntarily resigned as chairman of the State-Tribal Relations Interim Committee last year before he could strip Windy Boy of the position as punishment.
Knudsen, who is no longer in the Legislature, confirms that Windy Boy is the lawmaker who is subject of a March 2018 outside investigation that substantiated the harassment took place.
The investigative report recommended that legislative leaders take action over the unwanted texts sent between August and October 2017 that called a female lawmaker “gorgeous” and said, “You can step all over me and there are no boundaries.”
Windy Boy did not respond to calls or a text message for comment.
An outside investigation into claims that one Montana legislator sexually harassed another concluded that the lawmaker sent unwelcome text messages and recommended that legislative leaders take action before the situation repeats itself.
Legislative Legal Services released a copy of the March 2018 investigative report by Great Falls attorney Jean Faure to The Associated Press that blacked out the names of the lawmakers and witnesses. The agency did not immediately say what, if any, action was taken against the offender, who apologized when confronted in January 2018.
The texts sent between August and October 2017 called the recipient “gorgeous,” and “A wonderful sight for My Sore Eyes.”
In one exchange the complainant was concerned about overstepping boundaries in resolving an issue. The offender responded: “Well. Just know, between you and me. You can step all over me and there is no boundaries.”