You are here:  Home  >  Featured News  >  Current Article

Bombshell: Legislator whose charge of sexual harassment caused expulsion of a colleague now accused of sexual harassment

Posted by   /  February 5, 2020  /  No Comments

    Print       Email
Rep. Michelle Ugenti, R-Scottsdale, listens to Rep. Don Shooter, R-Yuma, read a statement regarding sexual harassment and other misconduct complaints made against him by Ugenti-Rita and others. Shooters comments came during mandatory sexual harassment and ethics training Jan. 9 on the House floor of the capitol.

By Julia Shumway | Arizona Capitol Times

Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, the Scottsdale Republican who became the face of Arizona’s #MeToo movement when her claims led to a fellow lawmaker’s expulsion, sexually harassed a female lobbyist so severely it took a toll on the woman’s mental health and career, the lobbyist alleged in a sworn deposition.

The deposition was part of a motion filed in Maricopa County Superior Court on Jan. 31 in the defamation lawsuit and counter-lawsuit between Ugenti-Rita and former Rep. Don Shooter. The woman describes a pattern of harassment by Ugenti-Rita and her now-husband, former adviser to the governor Brian Townsend, over the summer of 2016 that led the lobbyist to believe the political power couple was trying to recruit her for a threesome. Repercussions from those unwanted advances led the woman to seek therapy, turn down job offers and miss work days, she said.

A year later, as the #MeToo movement took root in statehouses around the country, Ugenti-Rita detailed sexual harassment she encountered as a lawmaker, including suggestive comments about her body and an exposing yank on her dress at a legislative reception. After several other women, including two more lawmakers, joined her in accusing Shooter of a pattern of inappropriate behavior, the House expelled him in February 2018.

Independent investigators hired by the House heard the woman’s story, but did not include most of it in the report that damned Shooter. It became public on Tuesday, nearly two years to the day after his expulsion, when Shooter included her subpoenaed deposition in a defamation suit.

Ugenti-Rita declined to comment for this story.


    Print       Email

Leave a Reply

You might also like...

Tempe deal shows the path of more sublease deals

Read More →