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Investigation released into intern’s claim of sexual harassment by Missouri Senator

The Missouri Senate Administration Committee Wednesday has released its report into sexual harassment allegations made against a Missouri Senator by the University of Central Missouri on behalf of an intern.

The Senate Administrator received a letter from April 22 from the Title IX Coordinator at UCM indicating the university was going to conduct an investigation into sexual misconduct.

The intern claimed she received unwelcome text messages and explicit requests for sexual activity from Senator Paul LeVota.

After reporting the unwanted contact to LeVota’s chief of staff, the intern claims she was subject to retaliation in the internship.

In an interview, the intern said she received text messages from LeVota referring to her as “perfect and beautiful,” and “we are secret friends.”

She also claims she received text messages from LeVota asking where she was or what she was doing.

The student said she didn’t save any of the text messages and has changed phones since the exchanges. LeVota denied having any inappropriate conversations with the intern, but declined having his phone checked by authorities.

Witnesses told investigators they saw text messages from LeVota coming in on the intern’s phone during non-work related hours.

The intern also told investigators there were two unwelcome requests from sexual activity made by LeVota on January 26.

The student said LeVota, his chief-of-staff Ron Berry, and herself attended a lobbyist event that night in Jefferson City.

Berry said the three left the event together, but he left the Capitol before the intern and LeVota.

The intern told investigators LeVota told her she should stay at his home in Jefferson City instead of going back to where she was staying in Fulton because she drank alcohol that night. The intern said LeVota was intoxicated that night, and they both took separate vehicles to his duplex.

When they arrived, the intern said LeVota offered her a glass of wine and started making derogatory comments about her boyfriend. She said LeVota twice made the comment, “If you want to sleep with me tonight, I won’t tell you no.”

When asked about that night, LeVota denied making any advances toward the intern, and said she “is not telling the truth.”

LeVota denied that the intern was ever in his home, but investigators had her give a description of the duplex’s layout, the staircase, the type of door lock, and color of the couch.

The intern told investigators that after she declined LeVota’s advances she was shunned by the Senator, removed from one-on-one projects with him, and no longer received assignments related to proposed rape kit legislation. She also said LeVota called her derogatory names, making her feel isolated.

A fellow UCM student said he saw the intern was being treated negatively by the Senator. He also said her meetings with the senator decreased dramatically compared to the beginning of the internship.

The intern met with LeVota’s chief-of-staff, who was a primary contact for interns in his office, on February 2.

The intern described everything that had happened, including the events of January 26.

In March, the intern met with the UCM professor who oversees the internship program. After their meeting, the professor concluded that the two UCM interns would not return to the internship.

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