DENVER – A Denver police detective who accused Mayor Michael Hancock of sending her sexually harassing text messages several years ago says through her lawyer that she is “extremely disappointed” in the city council’s decision not to investigate the matter.
In a letter to the city’s legal counsel, Sean Lane of The Lane Law Firm, which represents Detective Leslie Branch-Wise, said the council members “miss the point entirely” by stating that it was unable to launch an investigation.
The council announced on Monday that it would not be investigating the matter, citing a lack of legal authority. The council had previously said it didn’t want to launch an investigation and “revictimize” Branch-Wise and said she needed to file a formal complaint.
“The Council has the power to seek the truth, or at least try to do so,” Lane's letter states. “The Council has the power to issue subpoenas and investigate on behalf of their constituents, the citizens of Denver. It is unclear why the Council does not want to exercise this power. One thing is clear, however. Detective Branch-Wise has encouraged an investigation and wishes to cooperate with that investigation. Why won’t the Council admit that they chose not to investigate the Mayor on behalf of the citizens of Denver, without blaming that decision on Detective Branch-Wise in one fashion or another?”
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," a statement from Council President Albus Brooks said.
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 Branch-Wise.
The Mayor's Office released the following statement regarding the council's decision on Monday:
"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."