For Immediate Release:
Nov. 14, 2017

Contact:
Karen Middleton, Executive Director
NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado
720-251-6695 (cell)

NARAL PRO-CHOICE COLORADO STANDS WITH REP. FAITH WINTER, SPEAKER DURAN, AND ALL SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE AND HARASSMENT

Denver – On Friday, Representative Faith Winter went public with her charges of sexual harassment against Rep. Steve Lebsock. On Monday, she announced she would be filing formal charges. Other women have also come forward to corroborate Rep. Winter’s account.

NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado stands with Rep. Winter and Speaker Duran and calls on our allies to join us.

NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado Executive Director Karen Middleton issued the following statement:

“Rep. Lebsock’s reported offenses are serious and concerning, and he should be held fully responsible for them. He should step down immediately in the wake of these charges. Speaker Duran has taken strong and decisive actions by both calling for his resignation and coming forward with a call to strengthen sexual harassment policies at the Capitol.  The calls for Rep. Lebsock’s resignation from the members of the House and Senate Caucuses are appropriate and necessary.. It is important for all women who have faced this type of harassment to know that their colleagues, or their elected leaders, will stand up and defend them.

But we are also seeing a troubling trend of blaming the Speaker for Rep. Lebsock’s actions. This is unacceptable. Blaming the women is a tired and overused political weapon. This is why, as Rep. Winter has said, women don’t come forward – because they are afraid of retaliation against themselves and anyone who supports them. There is a reason in both this instance and in the case in Alabama, that survivors felt more comfortable telling their stories to female reporters.

As the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault has stated, “When the media chooses to criticize the actions of survivors and bystanders instead of focusing on the choices of perpetrators, journalists stand in the way of meaningful cultural change necessary to support survivors, hold offenders accountable, and create safer communities….Calling for Speaker Duran’s resignation, based on the grounds that she did not take action after becoming aware of fellow legislator’s inappropriate conduct, sends a dangerous message: victim choice does not matter, and the consequences that may affect the victim are not important. Under the current policies and procedures, Speaker Duran could not launch an investigation or formal disciplinary action without the survivors’ consent to do so. She is doing so now, because Representative Winter, amongst others, have made the brave choice to publicly come forward about their experiences of sexual harassment. SURVIVORS’ CHOICE MATTERS, ALWAYS.”

Speaker Duran and Rep. Winter are recognized champions of women’s rights, and Rep. Winter is a NARAL Champion of Choice, because they can be counted on to stand with Colorado women. We stand with them, and with all survivors of sexual abuse and harassment. Their abusers should be held fully accountable for their actions, whether that is via the processes of the General Assembly, or in a court of law.”

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