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Spawn Suggests Taking Powerful Legislative Leaders out of Sexual Harassment Reporting Loop

Elect more women, ban free booze—while we wait for those not-entirely-utopian proposals to come to pass, perhaps the Legislature can adopt Samantha Spawn’s simple suggestion for rooting sexual harassment out of our Capitol: have victims of sexual harassment report such bad behavior to someone other than the House and Senate leadership!

Spawn says a better mechanism for reporting harassment at the State Capitol needs to be put in place.

As it stands now, lawmakers must go to their chamber’s leadership, made up solely of men who can be dismissive of women’s claims.

She says the dynamics of power play a role as well, such as in cases when a bill is being pushed. Leadership might see action against a party member as damaging to their legislative efforts [Eric Tegethoff, “#MeToo Reaches Pierre, But Where Does SD Go from Here?Public News Service, 2017.10.30].

Spawn proposes a step akin to what I posted last week in response to the California State Senate leader’s decision to bring in two outside firms to investigate sexual harassment charges. The new Government Accountability Board created by this year’s House Bill 1076 could serve as such an outside entity to hear complaints about sexual harassment in the Capitol… if only the Legislature hadn’t exempted itself from the GAB’s jurisdiction.


  1. grudznick 2017-10-30 20:51

    Reporting to a board created by the legislatures is one idea, but this board only meets so often and is a ways removed from the people. Reporting to somebody like the Director of the Council on Legislative Research, who works there every day, might be even better. He has powers to control all of the Legislatures’ goings-on and could react immediately. To have one point of control like if it was in the executive or judicials, this is the man to whom the power to respond to these complaints should be given.

  2. Spencer 2017-10-30 20:53

    Does Samantha Spawn know that she can file a police report or simply name the Capitol Rapist? Does she understand that she is not a lawmaker nor ever will be and is not bound by these rules in any way? Is she suggesting that the person who raped her is a lawmaker? Or, is she simply trying to distract from the fact that she is harboring a rapist in our capitol? None of these reforms mean anything if women like Samantha Spawn are willing to let rapists and predators get away with their behavior.

  3. grudznick 2017-10-30 20:56

    Mr. Spencer has a good point too. Report such behaviors to the police. Do not let the fellows keep lurking in the dark while you complain about them, but shine a light into their beady eyes and holler loudly.

  4. Roger Cornelius 2017-10-30 20:58

    Is there any reason that sexual harassment and abuse charges can’t be reported directly to the Attorney General’s office?

  5. grudznick 2017-10-30 21:09

    It is entirely possible, you know, that Ms. Spawn has reported this behavior to the police and the only reason we haven’t heard of it yet is that they are busy tracking down all of her closest relatives to make sure they are notified and are not being denied any of the third cousin rights they are now entitled to. Eventually, the police will be able to get around to arresting the scoundrel. Let us hope it is before January when he stalks the halls again.

  6. leslie 2017-10-30 21:33

    spencer your chauvinistic piggishness is only exceeded by you gun extremism

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-10-30 21:55

    Ah, the victim-blaming returns.

    What of the issue Spawn mentions here, Spencer? Let’s leave the personalities out of it and talk specifically of reporting sexual harassment in the Capitol. Can you explain why people suffering sexual harassment in the Capitol should have to report that harassment to the power individuals that might sink the bills those victims might be in the Capitol to fight for in the first place?

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-10-30 21:59

    Roger, I don’t think one can take sexual harassment complaints to law enforcement in South Dakota. I think complaints about workplace sexual harassment go to the Division of Human Rights.

    Is sexual harassment even recognized as a crime in South Dakota?

  9. grudznick 2017-10-30 22:10

    Rape is a crime, and should always be reported to the police.
    Sexual harassment can be a crime, especially if the harassment includes touching.

  10. Steve Hickey 2017-10-31 06:19

    There is no victim-shaming or victim-blaming in saying out-the-Capitol rapist! I believe her and also have seen up close that it is a part of the healing process to get some justice.

  11. Roger Elgersma 2017-10-31 13:01

    When Wolman had to tell the press himself before anything happened, shows how little concern there is in the capital. That is proof that telling the leaders is a farce. Most states have laws that if you work for someone you do not need to be harassed because it is a crime. For a lawmaker, that means any employee of the state. When they immediately drop the case and the investigation against Wolman, stated that they have no intention of doing justice if it makes the state look bad. That is not justice. No justice is no healing. When woman advocate Rep. Karen Soli was for dropping the case, when she is a pastor, she did not understand the value of justice for healing. That should have been fully investigated to be a deterrent to others. When the party against abortion covers up promiscuity, there are to many just plain to stupid to believe situations here. This whole issue is spelled CORRUPTION.

  12. grudznick 2017-10-31 17:56

    Mr. Elgersma, when that fellow Mr. Wollmann was in the middle of his naughty business, I wonder if anybody reported this to the Director of the LCR. That is where this should have gone, and if they had Mr. Rausch or Ms. Soli knowing but not reporting it to the LCR then they should get an admonishment at least.

    But the squawking of “corruption, corruption, corruption” has wrecked that word for real use. If you are squawking it at Ms. Soli, you, sir, have some BHAGs indeed.

  13. John 2017-10-31 18:21

    Who is the custodian for the South Dakota State Capital Building? It’s a fair question since it, unfortunately, hosts all 3 branches of government. This trifecta gives each branch plausible deniability for the capital’s care, rule enforcement, upkeep, and decorum.

    The state ought have a no-alcohol rule in the capital. Minor exceptions could be made by the 3 heads of state for their branch of government, in writing, for 2-3 observances per year: i.e., winter reception, New Year reception, inauguration or swearing-in, opening & end of session – the rest of the time the capital should be drier than the sun.

    And yes, sexual harassment is a crime. It must be reported and treated as such. Reported to the capital police, the Hughes County Sheriff’s Office, the DCI. Reporting to the legislative or executive, or even judicial leaders is the wrong answer. Would one report parking lot theft to those folks?! Of course not. (A smaller part of the ‘problem’ is that often folks do not know what is harassment verses what is bad taste. Reporting to law enforcement greatly clarifies the legal burdens of proof and standards enabling a prosecution verses someone ‘being offended’ by another’s taste, or lack thereof.)

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-11-01 20:31

    John, which statute defines sexual harassment and sets a criminal penalty?

    If it is a crime, then I’ll take any accusations to law enforcement. But that poses two problems if the perps are legislators. First, legislators can’t be arrested during Session unless they’ve committed “treason, felony, or breach of the peace“. Does sexual harassment meet those criteria?

    Second, will any Hughes County law officer investigate and any Hughes County state’s attorney prosecute a legislator? Heck, we can’t even get the locals to investigate Rep Larry Rhoden for his false fire alarm in the Capitol.

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-11-01 20:34

    Grudz, that might actually be useful! Do you think Commissioner Scott Bollinger would take his powers seriously and evict any sexual harasser? And what of due process?

    As for alcohol, I’m for John’s rule… with no exceptions. Enjoy a nice Cherry 7-Up for New Year’s, root beer for end of Session.

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