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Legislators face sexual assault allegations, Minnesota no exception

Former MN Representative Tony Cornish resigned after sexual assault allegations came to light.

Fair Use Image: Tony Cornish Website

Former MN Representative Tony Cornish resigned after sexual assault allegations came to light.

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Allegations of sexual harassment against people in power have been flooding in, and Minnesota is not exempt from the scandals. State Lawmakers have been facing allegations from within and around the capital of incidents from the past two years that have only now been brought to light.

In August of 2015, Lindsey Port was a part of the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL) legislative hopeful. She was attending a DFL event when State Senator Dan Schoen came up and grabbed her butt from behind.

In December of the same year State Representative of DFL-Apple Valley, Erin Maye-Quade began receiving text messages from Schoen, asking her to get drinks with him or come over to his house. Refusing the texts, Maye-Quade reported the incidents after she received a text from him saying, “’I almost got her. Working on her pretty hard, but I almost got her.’”

The same year Schoen sent an unprovoked photo of his genitals to Ellen Anderson, a Senate staff member, via Snapchat. The incident was reported just this year.

DFL Representative Jamie-Becker says she was warned about Schoen when she came into office and told to be wary of him.

Maye-Quade was also texted by State Representative Tony Cornish. He wrote to her that he had been “‘busted for staring at you on the House floor … Haha. I told him it was your fault, of course. Look too damned good.’”

Cornish also was accused of pursuing a Capitol lobbyist, Sarah Walker, over the course of many years. He frequently texted her with proposals of sex, all of which she refused. On one occasion he pushed her against a wall and tried to kiss her.

These are five of the multiple women who have made accusations against State Lawmakers, and all the women hesitated before coming forward with reports because they worried about what it might mean for their careers.

“I was very concerned that it would become a reason for the party not to target me if I spoke out against him, or that it would just be, ‘She was the girl who can’t take a joke,’ and that would be the story,” said Port in an interview with MinnPost.

Both Cornish and Schoen were called on to resign from members of their respective parties, and on Nov. 2, both announced their resignations.

Though he did resign, Schoen continues to deny the allegations against him. His lawyer,  Paul Rogosheske made claims to bringing forward evidence of his innocence soon. He explained the resignation to StarTribune saying Schoen “doesn’t feel he can be effective anymore,” and that “he doesn’t want to work in an environment like this.”

Cornish, who had previously denied the claims, issued an apology. He is now facing legal charges from Walker and plans to have resigned by Dec.

As allegations continue to pour out worldwide one of the most shocking for Minnesotans was that of Senator Al Franken.

Model and radio broadcaster, Leeann Tweeden, came forward in a statement about her experience being forcibly kissed and later groped while asleep by Franken. The incident was reported to have happened in 2006 before Franken was a senator. Franken has issued an apology to Tweeden and an ethics investigation is underway.

Lindsay Menz reported an incident in which Franken squeezed her butt while they were taking a photo together. Menz said this happened in the summer of 2010, two years into Franken’s Senatorship. Franken claimed that he did not recall the incident. He does not plan on stepping down from his position.

As the MN government goes through ethics investigations, the SPA Upper School has its own procedures in place for dealing with sexual harassment on a school level.  The Upper School Handbook reads “all forms of harassment are prohibited.” Upon report of harassment to the Upper School administration, there will be an investigation into the claims. The gravity of consequences for the accused will depend on the situation and “include both disciplinary and educational components.” The Upper School also stands for those who have made a report of harassment saying they “will not tolerate retaliation against a person who makes a good faith report of harassment or participates in a harassment investigation.”

The caption was updated to indicate the proper legislator.

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About the Writer
Lucy Benson, Feature Editor

Lucy is a Feature Editor of The Rubicon. This is her first year on staff. She enjoys journalism because she values telling stories and learning about the communities she’s a part of and the ones around her. At school, Lucy is a cross country runner. She enjoys taking art classes but specifically likes to paint. Lucy can be reached at rubicon.spa@gmail.com.

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