Madison - St. Clair Record

Friday, August 23, 2019

McCarter calls Springfield a 'gross atmosphere' in wake of sexual harassment allegations

By Ann Maher | Nov 10, 2017

SPRINGFIELD - Programs on how not to engage in sexual harassment were given to lawmakers this week following recent bombshell allegations made by a lobbyist who claimed a ranking member of the state Senate harassed her.

Training sessions were conducted Wednesday for the House - with separate sessions for Democrats and Republicans and the same split for the Senate on Thursday.

According to the Chicago Tribune, two categories of harassment were presented: Quid pro quo, when sexual favors are requested in exchange for legislative support or contributions, or jobs; and hostile work environment, when inappropriate or offensive jokes are commonplace or verbal or physical conduct is sexual in nature.  

State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) said he was not in Springfield Thursday for the training because a business that he owns required his attention.

"There's no way I could have gotten up there," he said.

McCarter said he "can't relate to" a lot of what has come to light since victims' rights lobbyist Denise Rotheimer made accusations about State Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) at a House hearing on Oct. 31.

While testifying for a bill cracking down on sexual harassment, Rotheimer said that during 2015 she was a victim of "mind games" and unwelcome comments made by Silverstein while he sponsored a bill she proposed that dealt with compensation for crime victims' legal expenses.

She claims that she made formal complaints about Silverstein's behavior, but that nothing was done to address her concerns.

Since Rotheimer's allegations came to light, Silverstein's leadership role has been taken away and legislation prohibiting sexual harassment for state officials and employees was quickly passed. There also have been calls for Silverstein to resign.

With so much attention focused on the culture of Springfield, McCarter said the city has a "gross atmosphere."

"Here's the thing...people who make a living wielding political capital are obviously good enough to do it the same way when it comes to" professional relationships, he said

"I can't imagine treating anybody differently that I would treat my wife. You wouldn't do those things to people you know, no more than you would to people you love."

He said being faithful isn't just about having an affair or not having an affair.

"Being faithful is acting in all times as you would in front of your wife," he said.  

McCarter said he would participate in the training at a later date.

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