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DENVER — It all started with an anonymous letter to Chief Investigative Reporter Tony Kovaleski.
“Talk to Leslie Branch-Wise,” it advised. “Get the real story about her settlement with the city and her complaints about the mayor.”
In time, he did what other journalists couldn't: Convince the former Denver Police detective to show him the evidence and talk about what happened.
Our story, showing texts from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock calling Branch-Wise "sexy" and asking her about "pole dancing," set off a firestorm.
Jeannette Malone Scarpello took to the Denver7 Facebook page saying, "Maybe it's just me, but when I was younger, this used to be called flirting! So what? Big deal!! And after 6 years??? Please!"
Jeannette is not alone.
London Pray questioned those texts, too, writing, "I found nothing sexual in this. I'm not defending this guy but where was her text saying stop? No response isn't a solution."
But some felt the messages the mayor allegedly sent to Branch-Wise crossed the line.
Vanessa Osizzle wrote on Facebook, "It is sexual harassment when a boss flirt or otherwise comments or compliments the appearance of a subordinate in a leading way PERIOD. It's not criminal harassment but it sure is HR level harassment because the subordinate can now be subject to feeling forced to accept these advances or lose their job."
There are a lot of questions now about what the mayor should do next. Some are calling for his resignation — others say not so fast.