ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – An Alaska lawmaker who has been accused by several women of inappropriate behavior refused to resign on Tuesday amid calls for him to leave his post from leaders of the House majority and the head of the state Democratic Party.
State Rep. Dean Westlake, who is recovering from heart surgery, said he sought the counsel of friends, family, native leaders, elders, and God when making his decision to remain in office. He announced his decision in a statement, and was confirmed by his staff.
“I want to once again apologize to any woman whom I have made uncomfortable with either my actions or words. I never intended to hurt anyone, but I understand now that I have. I am truly sorry for that, and I want to thank anyone who came forward. Doing so required strength and bravery,” he said.
He vowed to become an ally and supporter of women moving forward. “I am committed to being better and to changing my behavior. I will learn from this experience,” he said.
His announcement came after a former legislative aide, Olivia Garrett, complained last spring to House leadership about two instances of unwelcome physical contact from the Democrat at work-related functions outside the Capitol. Garrett decided to go public after she said no one informed her how the matter was handled.
Six other female aides then came forward to accuse Westlake of acting inappropriately toward them or making them feel uncomfortable, the Anchorage Daily News reported Friday. The paper said those women asked not to be identified.
Garrett, who did not work for Westlake, told The Associated Press on Friday that she recently filed a human resources complaint against Westlake and said it was being investigated.
“These allegations have become a confidential personnel matter, and in respecting the process I cannot discuss the details,” Westlake said.
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