JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri state Sen. Paul LeVota submitted his resignation Friday following allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances toward interns, the chamber’s top leader said.
Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey said he received a resignation letter from the 47-year-old Democrat from Independence on Friday. Dempsey says the resignation is effective Aug. 23.
LeVota had previously denied claims of sexual harassment, inappropriate texting and invitations for interns to come to his Jefferson City duplex, and had said he had no plans to resign. He couldn’t immediately be reached Friday evening.
The state’s top Democrats said the claims called into question his ability to serve. But pressure on LeVota grew after the release Wednesday of an internal Senate investigation into an intern’s sexual harassment complaint against the senator this year. That prompted a woman who worked as an intern in LeVota’s office in 2010 to come forward with claims that the senator sent her late-night texts that she described as “sexual in nature” and invited her to his Jefferson City duplex.
The second woman, who was 24 at the time of her internship, provided what she said were screenshots of the texts from LeVota to The Associated Press and other media.
Missouri’s U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and Gov. Jay Nixon — both Democrats — issued statements Thursday saying the allegations called into question LeVota’s ability to serve, and the Republican-led Senate launched another review of the second intern’s accusations.
Taylor Hirth, the second intern to speak against LeVota, called on him to resign.
LeVota’s seat will remain vacant until Nixon calls a special election or until the end of LeVota’s term in 2017.
LeVota, 47, is married and has two daughters. He was elected to the Missouri House in 2002 and served as House minority floor leader from 2007 to 2010. LeVota was elected to the Senate in 2012 and served on an ethics committee until he was replaced following the allegations against him. That same ethics committee was tasked with investigating him.
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