Denver City Council won't investigate sexual harassment claims against Mayor Michael Hancock

DENVER — Citing a lack of legal authority, the Denver City Council declined to open an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Mayor Michael Hancock.

Monday’s decision not to pursue a public investigation into the 6-year-old claims made by Detective Leslie Branch-Wise came after “extensive additional legal advice,” a statement from Council president Albus Brooks read.

Council members agreed the mayor's conduct was unacceptable, a position the mayor himself shares, but said the governing body has inadequate authority to make a legal conclusion "since we (the city council) are not the judicial branch," Brooks wrote.

Denver lawmakers expressed concern that the mayor is essentially untouchable when it comes to these types of matters. 

"Council is deeply concerned that there is not a process to make a complaint against a Denver elected official for sexual harassment," the statement read.

Branch-Wise publicly pushed the council to investigate Hancock after making claims the mayor sent her suggestive and unwanted text messages during her time on his security detail in 2011 and 2012.

Mayor Hancock apologized for sending the texts, admitting they were inappropriate, but said he did not believe he sexually harassed her.

The Mayor's Office released the following statement regarding the council's decision:

"From the start, Mayor Hancock has been open, honest and transparent about this matter. He has taken full responsibility for his inappropriate text messages from six years ago and has apologized to Detective Branch-Wise as well as his family and the entire community. Mayor Hancock is committed to learning and growing from all of this while continuing to lead the city forward."

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