Bowling Green state representative accused of sexual harassment

Rep. Jim DeCesare (R) represents Warren County. 

Andrew Henderson

In an unfurling scandal involving Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover, Bowling Green Representative Jim DeCesare (R) has been accused of sexual harassment, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader

Representative C. Wesley Morgan (R) of Richmond said three additional legislators, of which DeCesare is allegedly one of, were accused of sexual harassment in a settlement Hoover reportedly settled last week, the Herald-Leader reported and confirmed. 

The College Heights Herald reached out to DeCesare at his home and office, per the phone numbers on his Kentucky Legislature webpage, but have yet to hear back.

DeCesare is the co-chair of the House Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee.

According to the Bowling Green Daily News, DeCesare was named a 2017 Legislative Session MVP by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce last April. Gov. Matt Bevin also recently appointed him to the Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board.

In an press conference this afternoon, Bevin called for the immediate resignation of lawmakers who have settled sexual harassment cases, or are “trying to hide this type of behavior.” 

“These alleged actions, which haven’t been denied, are reprehensible, indefensible and unacceptable. Any elected official or state employee who has settled a sexual harassment claim should resign immediately,” Bevin said. “The people of Kentucky deserve better. We appropriately demand a high level of integrity from our leaders, and will tolerate nothing less in our state.”

An anonymously sourced report by the Louisville Courier-Journal published Wednesday said Hoover “reached a confidential settlement over sexual harassment allegations by a woman who works on his legislative staff.” 

According to copies of text messages provided to the Courier-Journal, Hoover and the woman “engaged in sexually suggestive banter, with the woman occasionally being asked to send photos of herself.” 

Earlier today, members of the House leadership announced an independent investigation of the allegations, according to the Herald-Leader

“Because of the allegations and rumors swirling in the media and in the capitol, the majority leadership team of the Kentucky House of Representatives is taking steps to launch an independent investigation so that Members of the House and the general public may know the facts,” House leaders said in a statement, per the Herald-Leader. “Because the rumors involve the Speaker of the House, other State Representatives, and members of the House staff, the leadership team concluded that we must find the truth immediately to assure the public that the new Republican majority takes this matter seriously. We are not going to operate on rumor and innuendo; we are going to make decisions based on facts.”

The Herald will update this story as more information becomes available. News editor Monica Kast contributed to this report.