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House Committee votes to adopt new sexual harassment policy

A Missouri House Committee voted in favor of adopting a new sexual harassment and intern policy Thursday.

The decision came after former House Speaker John Diehl resigned after admitting to sexual misconduct with a college freshman intern.

One of the policies adopted is mandatory training for House members.

That training includes sexual harassment policies and procedures.

The policy adopted Thursday also states that House members cannot have romantic relationships with staff or interns.

One testimony during the hearing came from a former intern of state Senator Paul Levota, who said she was sexually harassed by the senator.

“I urge you to strengthen your procedures in dealing with these claims that hold those accused of predatory behaviors accountable for their actions and sets an example. So that the future elected officials are unquestionably aware that such conduct will not be tolerated.”

Levota left the Senate in July amid sexual harassment allegations, but never admitted guilt.

John Diehl resigned as House Speaker in May after inappropriate text messages he exchanged with a college freshman intern came out.

The new policy adopted forbids romantic fraternizations between members, staff, and interns.

It also outlines new sexual harassment training procedures. In the past, there has been training, but just at the beginning of a representative’s term. This policy would change that.

“For everybody we’re going to be moving toward a mandatory annual training process.”

The policy also states any sexual harassment complaints would require a third party investigation.

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