Since Michigan Advance reporter Allison Donahue wrote her first-person story on Jan. 15 of state Sen. Peter Lucido’s sexist comments toward her, two more women working around Michigan’s Capitol have said the Shelby Township Republican sexually harassed them, too.
Donahue’s story about Lucido’s extensive comments — which included telling a group of Catholic schoolboys that they “could have a lot of fun” with her — made national and international news.
Lucido serves as a member of the Michigan Senate GOP leadership team as majority whip and also chairs the powerful Senate Judiciary and Advice and Consent committees. The Senate Business Office launched a sexual harassment investigation at the behest of state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint).
Less than a week later, state Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) detailed a 2018 interaction at Senate orientation in which Lucido allegedly put his hand “very low on [her] back” and commented about her appearance. McMorrow filed her own Senate complaint against Lucido.
State Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills) said she saw the interaction at orientation, but Lucido has denied McMorrow’s allegations.
“This very well may be the end of my career,” McMorrow told reporters last week after session. “But honestly, if that’s the case, I’ll go back to what I was doing before. … I’ve got a career I can fall back on, and I’m very lucky in that regard.”
On Sunday, Crain’s Detroit reporter Chad Livengood wrote a story about a third woman accusing Lucido of sexual harassment, Melissa Osborn, who works in regulatory affairs for the Michigan Credit Union League.
Osborn said that Lucido approached her at a May 2019 conference at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Lansing. Like he allegedly did with McMorrow, he commented about her red hair, Crain’s reports. Osborn said that the senator later put his hand on her “lower back/upper butt” during a conversation.
Referring to Lucido denying McMorrow’s claims, Osborn told Crain’s, “He’s blatantly denying something that’s identical to what happened to me.”
Lucido denied Osborn’s account, as well, Crain’s reported. However, former state Sen. Tory Rocca (R-Sterling Heights), who used to represent Macomb County as Lucido does, said he believed it.
Detroit News editorial page assistant editor dismisses accusations against Lucido
Crain’s story on a third woman coming forward accusing Lucido of sexual harassment came hours after Detroit News editorial page Assistant Editor Ingrid Jacques wrote a column attacking McMorrow for sharing her story.
Jacques, a conservative columnist, put the responsibility on McMorrow, not Lucido, for stopping his comments and touching.
“She seems like a confident woman who could have just told him to knock it off or she could have simply taken a step back. He probably would have gotten the hint,” Jacques wrote.
The Women’s Center at Huntington, W.V.-based Marshall University defines rape culture as “an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture.”
According the Marshall University Women’s Center, some examples of rape culture are:
- Blaming the victim (“She asked for it!”)
- Trivializing sexual assault (“Boys will be boys!”)
- Sexually explicit jokes
- Tolerance of sexual harassment
- Publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress, mental state, motives, and history
Jacques’ primary focus was on criticizing McMorrow, a Democratic lawmaker who won a swing seat in 2018. Jacques briefly mentioned Donahue’s account, but did not note the existence of an audio tape of Lucido’s comments or the fact that the senator has repeatedly changed his story to media. Donahue has not. The Advance stands by its reporting.
McMorrow’s colleague, state Senate Minority Floor Leader Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), wrote a series of tweets Sunday morning calling out the damage she believes Jacques’ column has caused to survivors of sexual abuse.
Chang wrote that Jacques’ column “ignores how embeddened in our society it is to disbelieve women’s experiences” and “ignores power dynamics in the legislature.” She added that the Detroit News opinion piece “dismisses the fact that our colleague [McMorrow] *is* getting due process through an independent investigation.”
…Dismisses the fact that our colleague *is* getting due process through an independent investigation
Ignores the fact that the outrage & coverage is yes, sparked by 2 women, but generated out of knowledge that workplace harassment is a larger phenomenon that must be addressed
— Stephanie Chang (@stephanielily) January 26, 2020