Denver Mayor Michael Hancock today admitted to sending “inappropriate” text messages to a police officer on his security detail in 2012.
One of the text messages described the woman as “sexy,” and the recipient described herself as the victim of sexual harassment, according to Denver7, which first reported the story.
The mayor’s office issued an apology via press release following the news.
Hancock sent the text messages in 2012 to Denver police detective Leslie Branch-Wise, he said in a news release.
One text, complimenting her haircut said, “You make it hard on a brotha to keep it correct every day,” according to Denver7. Another stated: “You look sexy in all that black,” in reference to her brief appearance on television at a basketball game, Denver7 reported.
He also asked via text whether she had ever considered taking a pole-dancing course, according to 9News. Later, he wrote: “Be careful! I’m curious ;)!” according to 9. (We’ve reached out to Hancock’s office for further details.)
Hancock, who is married, said that he and the officer had become friends and that he “blurred the lines between being a friend and being a boss.” He also said that he did not make any “sexual advances or inappropriate physical contact.”
Earlier accusations against mayoral aide:
In 2012, the same year that Hancock sent the text messages, Branch-Wise requested a transfer off of the mayor’s security detail. At the time, she accused a mayoral staff member of sexual harassment. Hancock fired that employee in 2012, he said.
Later, the city paid Branch-Wise $75,000 to settle her claims against the employee, according to The Denver Post. The mayoral aide, Wayne McDonald, also received a $200,000 settlement after he challenged his firing, the Post reported.
The mayor claimed in a news release that he wasn’t aware until this week that Branch-Wise “felt our text exchanges were unwelcome and contributed to the pain and disrespect she was already feeling. But it is obvious now that she did feel that way.”
Hancock described his own actions as “too familiar and unprofessional.” In his statement, he apologized to his wife, his family and the residents of Denver. He praised Branch-Wise for showing courage in coming forward.
Contact Andrew Kenney at email@example.com or 303-502-2803.