DENVER — Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has been accused of sexual harassment by a former member of his security team.
Hancock released a statement of apology Tuesday.
In the statement he revealed the accusations have to do with inappropriate text messages he sent to Denver police Det. Leslie Branch-Wise in 2012.
“Six years ago, Denver Police Detective Leslie Branch-Wise was a member of my security team. In May of 2012, she called me. She let me know she had requested a transfer out of the unit because a member of my staff had sexually harassed her.
I listened and what I heard greatly disturbed me. I apologized that this had happened. We reviewed the matter and took immediate action. The employee was fired within days.
While those facts have been public for years, I am here today to apologize for my own words from that time – text messages that were too familiar and unprofessional.
But let me be clear – my behavior did not involve sexual advances or inappropriate physical contact.
During Detective Branch-Wise’s time on the security team, we became friends, but my text messages in 2012 blurred the lines between being a friend and being a boss.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know until just a few days ago that she 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.
I sincerely apologize to Detective Branch-Wise, to my wife and family, and to the people of Denver.
I trust that those who know me will recognize that this is not a full measure of my character – of who I am as a husband, a father, a son or the Mayor of this great city. I have learned from this mistake, and today I assure you that my words and actions will continue to support all women in the workplace.
I have the utmost respect for Detective Branch-Wise. She showed courage in 2012, and again by coming forward now. She is a valued and dedicated police officer who has served and continues to serve this city well.”
Four exchanges between the mayor and Branch-Wise were provided by the mayor’s office.
Hancock: “What are you doing tonight?”
Branch-Wise: “Nothing just watching TV.”
Hancock: “Just giving you a hard time. I have to keep you balanced. All I hear from my friends is how fine you are. I just had dinner with three friends in LA and your name came up and they all commented on you. You should feel good my friends really appreciate you.”
Hancock: “OK, so I just watched this story on women taking pole dancing classes. Have you every taking [sic] one and why do women take the course? If not, have you ever considered taking one and why? Thoughts?”
Hancock: “Be careful! I’m curious!”
Hancock: “Hope you are doing better.”
Branch-Wise: “I am. Much better.”
Hancock: “Very good. Have a good weekend.”
Branch-Wise: “You too!”
Hancock: “Just landed in LV. It’s party time, baby!!”
Branch-Wise: “Yay!!!!! Like a rockstar!”
Hancock: “Loved the short doo. You make it hard on a brotha to keep it correct everyday.”
Hancock: “You look sexy in all that black! LOL!
Branch-Wise: “You saw me?”
Hancock: “How would I know you had on black? Were all over the TV!”
Hancock said in an interview on Tuesday night that he blurred the line between being a friend and a boss.
The mayor also said he is not going to resign.
The Denver Sheriffs Fraternal Order of Police reacted to this news in a Twitter message Tuesday night.
“On behalf of Denver Sheriff FOP we back you 100%. No female officer should ever have to endure such egregious behavior from a so called trusted official.”