DENVER — The Denver Police detective who accused Mayor Michael Hancock of sending sexually suggestive texts is reacting to Monday’s decision by Denver City Council members to not pursue an investigation into her claims.
Leslie Branch-Wise told Denver7 Chief Investigator Tony Kovaleski that she was not really surprised by the decision, maintaining what she had stated from the beginning about the process.
“If I had made these claims against any other person in the department, that person would be suspended, and there'd be an investigation,” Branch-Wise said during an earlier interview. “There has to be some kinds of checks and balances with regards to the mayor. Just because he's the boss of the city doesn't mean he should be exempt from an investigation.”
Thedecision not to open a public investigation into the 6-year-old claims made by Branch-Wise came after “extensive additional legal advice,” a statement from Council president Albus Brooks read.
The former police detective publicly pushed the council to investigate Hancock after making claims the mayor sent her suggestive and unwanted text messages during her time on his security detail in 2011 and 2012.
Council members agreed the mayor's conduct was unacceptable, a position the mayor himself shares, but said the governing body has inadequate authority to make a legal conclusion "since we (the city council) are not the judicial branch," Brooks wrote.
Brooks declined to speak to Denver7 Tuesday about the controversial decision, but some council members did.
“I understand the frustration of the population, but I am very comfortable with the council's position,” said Denver City Councilmember Paul Kashman.
But others are not so comfortable. Lisa Calderon, Co-chair of Colorado's Latino Forum, led the “Time’s up Hancock” march on City Hall. She said city council has let down voters and the thousands of city employees.
“I think it sends a terrible message to the 11,000 city workers. The message is if you are sexually harassed by an elected official, too bad. There is no process for you, and I think that's a terrible message,” said Calderon.
Mayor Hancock apologized for sending the texts, admitting they were inappropriate but said he did not believe he sexually harassed her. His office released the following statement regarding the council's decision:
"From the start, Mayor Hancock has been open, honest and transparent about this matter. He has taken full responsibility for his inappropriate text messages from six years ago and has apologized to Detective Branch-Wise as well as his family and the entire community. Mayor Hancock is committed to learning and growing from all of this while continuing to lead the city forward."