Rep. Hamilton suspended from chairmanship amid sexual misconduct investigation
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - A Minnesota state representative was suspended from his chairmanship Thursday pending an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations made against him.
On Friday, a woman filed a report of criminal sexual conduct involving Rep. Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake) with the St. Paul Police Department. The victim told an investigator that Hamilton “stroked her hair, traced her ear with his finger, kissed her cheek and held her hands and hugged her,” according to Sgt. Mike Ernster. The alleged incident occurred on April 13.
Hamilton reported to the director of human resources for the House that he had been accused of sexual misconduct. In a joint statement, Speaker Kurt Daudt and Majority Leader Joyce Peppin announced they were suspending Hamilton’s chairmanship of the Agriculture Finance Committee.
The leaders said they have instructed the human resources department to begin their complaint process per the new House Policy on Discrimination and Harassment.
In a statement, Hamilton denied accusations of sexual assault. He said regrets the effect his actions had on the victim, saying he “intended to offer comfort and compassion to a person who was going through a difficult time.”
Ernster said the investigator wrote a report based on the interview and contacted the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office.
“The attorney told the investigator that, based on the information currently available, it did not appear that the elements of a crime were present,” Ernster said in an email.
The case remains open. Hamilton said he has not been contacted by law enforcement regarding the allegations, but he will cooperate fully with any investigation conducted either by law enforcement or the House human resources department.
Full statement from Rep. Rod Hamilton
"As someone who has worked for years with at-risk men and women, including survivors of sexual assault, I deeply regret the effect my actions had on Ms. Schlecht. During my interactions with Ms. Schlecht, I intended to offer comfort and compassion to a person who was going through a difficult time. I now understand that my actions, while well-intentioned may be viewed differently by a survivor of sexual assault, and that it may have caused additional pain and hardship. For that I fully apologize. I categorically deny accusations of sexual assault—as stated in the article, according to a spokesperson from the Ramsey County attorney's office, these actions '...did not meet the elements of criminal sexual conduct.' In the interest of full transparency and cooperation, I have reported this incident to the House Human Resources Department. To date, I have not been contacted by law enforcement regarding these allegations, but I will cooperate fully with any investigation conducted either by law enforcement or the House Human Resources Department."