Denver City Council considers possible investigation into sexual harassment claims against mayor

Posted at 6:25 PM, Mar 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-20 00:29:39-04

DENVER — City Council President Albus Brooks announced Monday that he and other council members are seeking legal guidance for a potential investigation into Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

In a statement sent to Denver7, Brooks said the chamber’s legal counsel had been directed to develop a proposal for a potential investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against the mayor.

The move comes after recent statements from Detective Leslie Branch-Wise, who accused Hancock of sending her a series of sexually explicit text messages when she was serving on his security detail in 2011 and 2012.

The mayor has not denied the allegations, but says his actions did not rise to the level of harassment. 

In an exclusive interview with Denver7 Investigates, Branch-Wise accused the council of protecting the mayor and sweeping the issue under the rug.

She called for the probe during an interview with Denver7 Chief Investigator Tony Kovaleski.

“I do want an investigation, and I’ll be more than happy to cooperate with an investigation,” Branch-Wise told Kovaleski.

In a previous statement, Brooks insisted an investigation was not warranted because "there are no disputed facts about the case." 

However, he left the option open if Branch-Wise reached out with "new information or facts."

That threshold was apparently met when Brooks sought legal advice for a possible investigation, which will have to be formally voted on by the full council to proceed.

If an investigation is launched, Brooks cautioned that the city council has no authority to discipline the mayor.

In an interview with Denver7, Hancock suggested there was nothing to investigate since he has been open about the matter from the beginning. 

"Detective Ranch-Wise has every right to ask what she wants to ask for. What I gave was my heartfelt, sincere apology, and I’ve been transparent about all that went down from my knowledge of six years ago, and I'll stand by that," Hancock said.