DENVER – Sexually-explicit language is at the center of allegations that Rep. Steve Lebsock sexually harassed several women who worked at the state Capitol – allegations that were found to be credible, according to the investigative report into the complaints.
Denver7 obtained the redacted report from one of Lebsock’s accusers and independently verified its authenticity Wednesday. Though all of the names contained within the 35-page report are redacted, it offers more detail as to what exactly Lebsock is accused of doing, and the lengths to which the investigator went to try and find out whether the accusations were founded.
Read the full redacted investigation here.
It is also at the center of a vote expected to happen Friday over whether or not Lebsock, a Thornton Democrat, will be expelled from the Colorado House because of his alleged actions.
The report from the unidentified Employers Council, Inc. investigator, which was supposed to remain secret under legislative rules, was delivered to House Majority Leader KC Becker on Feb. 26.
According to the investigation, the lead investigator interviewed 19 people in connection to the case either at the Employers Council Northern Regional Office in Loveland, the main council offices in Denver, or via the phone.
The report details several alleged lewd comments or unwanted advances toward several women Lebsock made over a period of several years, starting in 2014 and ending in 2017.
There are 11 allegations made in the report by five women, all of which the investigator found “more likely than not” did occur.
Among those were comments made toward a woman at a party following the end of the 2016 legislative session in which he allegedly sexually propositioned her and said “how hard [he] could make [her] c----.”
In other allegations, Lebsock is accused of asking a woman if she needed a “f--- buddy,” while in another, he’s accused of telling a woman her breasts “look great.” There are other lewd comments and sexual incidents alleged in the report as well.
Lebsock has continually and repeatedly denied all the allegations against him, and the report also details the length to which he went to try and prove his innocence – attempts that did not help his credibility with the investigator, according to the report.
When the allegations against him became public late last year, the report states, a polygraph test firm reached out to Lebsock to offer he take a test to prove his innocence. After several days, Lebsock took up the offer, the report says. But it also says that Lebsock provided the background information to the person giving the polygraph for a brief, and that he knew what questions would be asked before the test.
Further, the report says, Lebsock’s ex-wife was interviewed by the investigator and offered up a calendar in which she alleged she knew her then-husband had not been out at a party in which he was accused of unbuttoning the top button of a woman’s shirt. But the investigator said that since the ex-wife withheld certain information, that the “reliability” of the calendar was in question.
Lebsock also claimed in interviews with the investigator that he felt he was being attacked politically by Winter and others. He said that he thought she believed he was going to try and run for the same Senate seat she is seeking—something the investigator also said was implausible because of the timeline.
“As indicated throughout the report, this investigator consistently found the statements of the complainants more credible than [Lebsock’s] statements and perceived motivations involved,” the report’s conclusion states. “In addition, the similar nature and crassness of the language allegedly used by [Lebsock] gives further credence to the allegations brought forth by [the women].”
Its conclusion further says that the investigator found the accusers to be more credible than Lebsock.
“The lack of motive for each woman, is balanced against the perceived motive of [Lebsock] and his desire to keep his legislative seat amidst calls for this resignation,” the report states. “In the end, this investigator was more persuaded by the information provided by each of the complainants than the statements by [Lebsock].”
Expulsion vote expected Friday
Becker introduced the measure to expel Lebsock from the state House on Tuesday. While House Democrats have been united in calling for Lebsock to resign, he has been defiant, and thus could be the first Colorado lawmaker to be expelled from the General Assembly since 1915.
But doing so will require a two-thirds majority vote in the Democrat-controlled House, and Democrats will need several Republicans to back the expulsion measure for it to succeed.
On Wednesday, it was unclear whether Republicans would support the measure. Most lawmakers who had seen the report had only seen the redacted version, which leaves some questions unanswered because people’s names are blacked out.
Rep. Susan Beckman, R-Arapahoe County, said she had seen the redacted version, but wanted to see a full version of the report before making a decision.
“I have a background of senior management in human resources, and when I sat down with the report, I was disappointed,” Beckman. “It’s hard to get the context of what was actually happening to answer the who, what, when, where, why questions by that redacted report. It’s disjointed.”
She said that though she was a Republican, she didn’t believe the decision would be a partisan one, and that lawmakers needed to make an informed decision.
“The public trust in what we do is very important. Voters vote people in, and sometimes they don’t appreciate when decisions are made to remove them without due diligence,” she said.
House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, said he had seen an unredacted version of the report, but that it still left him wondering.
“I’ve been the only one in my entire caucus who’s gone to read the unredacted report, and just reading the report, I’m left with quite a few questions before I’m willing to make that decision (to expel Lebsock),” Neville told Denver7.
“I was hoping that when I got the report there would actually be something solid that I could look at and actually make a decision from, but it actually led to even more questions,” he continued. “Where we sit right now, I think we probably do need some more time…right now, I can’t vote to expel. I need to have a thorough process before I’m willing to take such a significant step that hasn’t been done for 102 years.”
Becker told Denver7 Tuesday that Lebsock will be given time ahead of the expulsion hearing to address the allegations. Winter was still adamant that Lebsock be removed.
"If we don't move forward with this expulsion, we are sending a very dangerous message that when we put on this badge, that we are held above accountability and reproach," Winter said. "The last thing I was thinking of when I came forward was politics. My whole goal in coming forward was to make sure this behavior stopped and that women in this building felt safe and felt like their voices were heard."
But Lebsock said he didn’t believe he would be expelled, saying there had been “a lot of bias and unprofessionalism from the fact finder” in the case.
“"The members of this body will see what's going on and I will not be expelled,” he told Denver7. “Over the coming weeks and months, the people of Colorado will have a greater picture about how the two-party system has failed us and how, literally, I'm being thrown underneath the bus."