Council is against investigating Denver's mayor, doesn't want to re-victimize woman

Non-disclosure agreements signed by city council
Posted at 10:04 PM, Mar 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-16 00:36:10-04

DENVER -- A joint statement released by Denver City Council indicates there will be no further investigation into sexual harassment claims against the mayor.

The council gave several reasons for the decision, saying the facts have not been disputed. The statement also expresses concern about further victimizing the former security detail officer who says Mayor Michael Hancock's texts made her uncomfortable.

Earlier this week, Councilman Rafael Espinoza called for an independent investigation and sent a letter to the mayor urging him to remove the cloud forming over his administration. What he described as a personal plea to the administration did not last long. 

Denver7 confirmed council members signed non-disclosure agreements on Tuesday, the same day they met in a private legal session for an hour and-a-half. A spokesperson for the mayor said such agreements are "not uncommon."

A little more than two weeks ago, Denver police detective Leslie Branch-Wise said the mayor sent inappropriate texts when she was serving on his security detail in 2011 and 2012. In one text, Hancock told her she looked sexy in black. In another, he asked her if she's ever taken a pole dancing class.

The mayor apologized but critics are calling upset with the lack of any investigation from the council.

"But to come out with a letter that is saying basically our questions have been answered so let’s move on, really does a disservice to the residents of Denver," said Lisa Calderon, an outspoken critic of the mayor who recently organized a rally against him. 

Denver7 put calls into every single council member to ask their personal opinion on why further investigation is not needed. Kevin Flynn was the only one to answer any questions about the matter. He said he is still asking questions, adding, "What I've seen so far doesn't tell me we need to launch an investigation."

Branch-Wise first raised allegations of sexual harassment in 2012, but directed them at one of the mayor’s aides, Wayne McDonald. She said the harassment became so unbearable, she called the mayor to tell him she wanted to be taken off the detail because of McDonald’s behavior.

Hancock took action and fired McDonald four days later, the mayor’s office confirms. McDonald then sued the city for wrongful termination. He ultimately settled with the city for $200,000 in 2016. 

Branch-Wise settled with the city for $75,000 in 2013. As part of that settlement, Branch-Wise agreed not to file claims against anyone else in the city.

A spokesperson with the city said council members signed those non-disclosure agreements because she said McDonald, through his attorney, has threatened to sue the City again if he isn't paid more money.


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