DENVER (CBS4) – Denver mayoral candidate Jamie Giellis is pouncing on a remark by Mayor Michael Hancock at a debate Tuesday night. For last year, the mayor has repeatedly apologized for sending inappropriate texts to a woman on his security detail.
At a Denver Post debate, he went on the offense saying no one has ever seen the texts the detective sent him.
Now, that detective, Leslie Branch-Wise, is firing back. At a press conference with Giellis, Branch-Wise said she sued the city seven years ago alleging sexual harassment by the mayor and one of his appointees. She pointed to a pile of papers indicating it was the lawsuit.
“These include texts, other information and claims against mayor and his best friend and aid,” she said.
Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson says, “Leslie Branch-Wise never brought any claims nor did she threaten any claims against the mayor.”
In fact, Branch-Wise signed a sworn affidavit saying the mayor never sexually harassed her. She now suggests her attorneys encouraged her to perjure herself.
“I hired attorneys to represent me and was advised by those attorneys to do some things,” Branch-Wise said.
Last year – six years after she signed the affidavit – Branch-Wise was interviewed on TV saying she claimed the mayor did, in fact, sexually harass her by sending her inappropriate text messages. He publicly apologized for the texts, but has insisted he didn’t think it rose to sexual harassment.
He explained why at the debate.
“You don’t see the back and forth conversation that occurred,” Hancock said Tuesday night.
He’s now apologizing, “I knew immediately as soon as came out mouth, that’s not the way I want to answer this question. I apologize for that. I owe the people of Denver, Det. Branch-Wise and my family better than that.”
Branch-Wise refused to give CBS4 the texts she sent to the mayor or the lawsuit she says she brought against the city, “I’ve never said anything to this man as inappropriate and if he has these things that he says he does, I challenge him to bring them forward.”
The city attorney says the mayoral appointee who Branch-Wise did accuse of sexual harassment in 2012 is the only one who filed a lawsuit. He sued the city, Branch-Wise and the mayor for defamation.
Giellis claims Branch-Wise’s experience is an example of a “culture of sexual harassment” in the city. But, a couple dozen women who work in the mayor’s office released a statement calling that a “mischaracterization” that they find “insulting.”
They say, “We work in a culture of respect and support. Gender equality is a hallmark of this administration.”