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GOP legislator should be expelled for sexual misconduct, Texas panel says

The Texas House of Representatives will vote this week on whether to expel Rep. Bryan Slaton (R) after a committee unanimously recommended his dismissal over sexual misconduct with a 19-year-old aide.

The House’s general investigation committee accused Slaton, 45, in an investigative report released Saturday of engaging in disorderly conduct — including harassment, serving alcohol to someone underage and abusing his position. The investigation was launched in April after a 21-year-old legislative intern and two 19-year-old aides filed complaints accusing Slaton of sexual harassment and retaliation.

The five-person bipartisan committee investigating the claims found Slaton “engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with a subordinate,” Rep. Andrew Murr (R), the investigation committee’s chair, said on the floor Saturday.

“That behavior was induced by alcohol that Representative Slaton provided to that 19-year-old subordinate,” Murr added.

Slaton and his attorney, Patrick Short, did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday night. In a statement last month, Short called the allegations against Slaton “outrageous” and “false.”

The committee’s report says expulsion is “the only appropriate discipline in this matter.” The House will vote on Tuesday whether to expel Slaton — a move that would require two-thirds of the 150 members’ votes.

“The expulsion of a fellow member is a level of punishment we don’t take lightly,” Murr said. “It is not meant to punish the member. Rather, it is intended to protect the integrity and dignity of this legislative body and to provide accountability to everyone that works and serves in this building.”

The legislative aides and intern who accused Slaton of wrongdoing said he’d helped them get alcohol multiple times, according to the report. One of the aides had been hired by the Republican lawmaker in January, the report states. The other two women worked in a different office.

In January, Slaton provided the three women with vouchers so they could get alcoholic beverages at a lobbying event, the report says. In the months that followed, the aide who worked in Slaton’s office told investigators that he called her most evenings and told her she had “nice features,” according to the report.

Before midnight on March 31, Slaton invited that aide to his Austin condo, and three friends joined her to offer protection, the report states. Slaton poured the aide rum and coke until her vision was blurred and she felt “really dizzy,” according to the report. The aide stayed at Slaton’s condo when her friends left around 2 a.m., the report says.

The aide told investigators that alcohol hindered her judgment, “but now that I look back at it, it was definitely an inappropriate situation,” according the report. She declined to tell investigators what sexual activity occurred or whether she provided consent, the report states.

The aide “could not effectively consent to intercourse and could not indicate whether it was welcome or unwelcome,” the report states.

The aide’s friends told investigators that the next morning, the aide took the emergency contraceptive Plan B and was driven to her apartment by Slaton, the report says. She told her friends that she’d had sex with Slaton, according to the report.

“Slaton’s misconduct is grave and serious,” the House committee members wrote in the report. “He took advantage of his position to engage in sexual conduct after completing training in which he had been advised that conduct of this type was harassment because of the power imbalance.”

The next week, Slaton showed an email to the aide that claimed a staffer knew the pair were “sleeping” together and “nothing would happen as long as her and her friends keep quiet,” the report says. The aide and her friends felt threatened, the report says, and one told other members of the House about the events.

An unnamed legislator told investigators that Slaton said he’d had sex with the aide and asked him not to inform others, the report says. The aide and her friends filed complaints against Slaton in April.

Slaton, who took office in January 2021, is one of dozens of state legislators across the country who have faced sexual misconduct or harassment allegations in the past decade, according to the Associated Press.

The Texas House last expelled a legislator in 1927, for bribery charges. Some Texas politicians have called for Slaton to resign.

Rep. Jared Patterson (R) said in a statement that he found the report “disturbing and disgusting.”

“I look forward to voting to expel Mr. Slaton and protecting the integrity of the Texas House of Representatives,” Patterson said.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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