INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana legislative leaders say they expect new policies prohibiting sexual
harassment by lawmakers will be in place for their upcoming session.
for the House and Senate were advanced Tuesday by leaders, although they
said ethics committees for each chamber could tighten them up before
legislators consider their adoption in January.
The draft policy
expressly forbids unwanted sexual advances, but some experts say it falls
short in not prohibiting what could be consensual affairs between lawmakers
and employees or interns.
President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said the committee of four female legislators
that prepared the draft only dealt with sexual harassment issues because
that was the direction made in a bill adopted by lawmakers during the 2018
“We already have -
and probably need perhaps make them more robust - some restrictions ...
about relationships between a senator and an intern, for example,” Bray told
reporters Tuesday. “That sort of thing, of course, is verboten.”
haven’t been covered by a specific sexual harassment policy, although
current ethics policies require them to act with “high moral and ethical
standards.” The move to adopt a policy came after a wave of sexual
misconduct allegations against powerful men in public office, Hollywood and
the media, igniting the #MeToo movement.
Jennifer Drobac, an
Indiana University law professor who studies sexual harassment policies,
criticized the proposal for prohibiting ethics committee members or
legislative leaders from participating in an investigation if they are the
subject of the complaint - but not if they are friends with the accused
“The report is
shockingly dated - very 20th century in its approach,” Drobac told The
Indianapolis Star .
however, would not cover situations such as the allegations that Republican
Attorney General Curtis Hill drunkenly groped a lawmaker and three
legislative staffers during a party at an Indianapolis bar in March. That’s
because Hill, who has denied any misconduct, is a separately elected
official in the state’s executive branch.
Speaker Brian Bosma voted Tuesday in favor of advancing the draft policy
despite facing allegations from a former legislative intern that they had a
1992 sexual fling while he was a House member. Bosma has denied the
allegation and the woman’s claims that he tried to intimidate her with a
campaign-funded investigation by a private attorney this year in order to
keep her quiet.
Bosma said this
week that he didn’t participate in developing the policy, but that some
changes might be needed in response to criticism.