JANUARY 26, 2007
A South Dakota Senate Committee will decide what action to take against a popular Democratic state senator accused of sexually groping a high school page during last legislative session.
The nine-member committee has spent the last three days hearing the sordid details of what happened when Senator Dan Sutton and the teenage page shared a hotel bed at the start of the youth’s weeklong internship in the legislature. The 36-year-old senator admits he shared a bed with the page, but denies groping him in the night.
The young man, now a 19-year-old college student, says the lawmaker touched his genitals through his shorts when the two shared a bed during a two-day stay at a Holiday Inn. Friends, a cousin and a former teacher testified that the young man was visibly shaken when he told them what happened the next day. In fact, his cousin testified that she received a frantic call in which her cousin begged her to pick him up from the hotel and, when she did, “his legs were shaking and his voice was cracking.”
No criminal charges have been filed against the senator and the special panel is expected to issue a ruling on the disciplinary hearing within a week. Independent of whether Sutton sexually groped a young page under his watch, it seems highly inappropriate for the lawmaker to even share a bed with a teenager. One South Dakota political blog, which incidentally doesn’t believe the senator’s denials, writes: “Cripes, don’t sleep in the same bed as a page!
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