Sexual assault training to be held for South Dakota lawmakers

By  | 

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - South Dakota legislative leaders announced Monday that all lawmakers will be expected to take part in a training on legislative ethics, professionalism, and sexual harassment next month.
This is not the first time lawmakers have had this type of training, but Senate Majority Leader Blake Curd says with sexual assault allegations making national headlines, it's time to hold a refresher course.

Allegations of sexual harassments aren’t just occurring on a national scale.
During the #Metoo movement, one former legislator came forward saying they had been a victim of sexual harassment at the capitol.
A lobbyist came forward and claimed she was sexually assaulted by a member of the legislative staff during the 2017 session.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are coming together to combat sexual harassment by holding a sexual assault training.

“I think that this is a statement that sexual harassment and unethical conduct won't be tolerated,” Sen. Billie Sutton, (D) Burke said.

“There is no space for it. There’s no space for it in the workplace and there's no space for it in the legislature either,” Sen. Black Curd, (R) Sioux Falls said.

Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein being accused of sexual assault created the fuel to start the #Metoo movement.
Recent sexual assault allegations against politicians like Roy more and Al Franken are now putting politicians in the national spotlight.
Several women in South Dakota have also come forward, claiming to have experienced sexual misconduct in Pierre.
Samantha Spawn told KSFY News in October she was sexually assaulted this year by a member of the legislative staff.
She says she is glad to see leadership come together to hold this training.

“I don't think it's the end solution, or that our work is done with the sexual harassment meeting, and I would definitely want to make sure that I see that's codified into law, that this becomes required for all incoming legislators,” Spawn said.

Some members of the legislative leadership says they've heard of sexual harassment occurring at the capitol.

“I know it's gone on and that's why this type of thing is so important, to try to change that culture,” Sutton said.

Senator Curd says this training was not planned because of recent allegations against members of the legislature.

“Claims that have been made. There’s been point counter point, some of it has been he said, she said. This really isn’t about trying to address issues that have already happened or haven’t happened. It's about making sure that the people who are serving in their elected capacity in South Dakota currently understand what the expectations of the greater legislature are,” Curd said.

Spawn says she hopes this is just the beginning of addressing the issue and she thinks there needs to be better ways to report this kind of misconduct.

“There's nothing to my knowledge for lobbyists to use if they have an issue. So, finding some kind of non-partisan almost kind of like an HR party whose responsible for dealing with harassment and assault allegations would be, I think, a really important thing to add,” Spawn said.

Senator Curd says he has never witnessed any sexual harassment in the nearly 10 years he has served at the capitol.

Experts from the National Conference of Legislators will hold the training presentation in Pierre on January 17th.