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Sen. Nate Boulton says sexual misconduct complaint against him doesn’t ‘ring true’

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State Sen. Nate Boulton. — official photo

Sen. Nate Boulton has told the Iowa State Senate Ethics Committee that the woman who accused him of sexual misconduct may be lying, the Associated Press reported on Monday.

A complaint filed last month with the committee by Des Moines attorney Sharon Wegner alleges Boulton repeatedly grabbed her buttocks at an East Village bar on the night of Nov. 20, 2015. The first-term senator claimed parts of Wegner’s account “do not ring true.”

Boulton suggested in his response that Wegner had a motive for wanting to injure him.

“He also provided a signed statement from a fellow lawyer indicating the woman portrayed herself as having a romantic interest in Boulton that he didn’t return,” according to the AP’s David Pitt.

Wegner was one of three women who accused Boulton of “touching them without their consent” that the Des Moines Register reported in May. The Register story led to Boulton quitting the race for the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor.

Many leading Iowa Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, have called on Boulton to resign from the Senate, but he has insisted he will serve out his full term.

Prior to Monday, Boulton had not disputed Wegner’s account of events. Instead he said didn’t recall it, or the incidents described by the other two women. He suggested that any such behavior may have been the result of binge drinking.

Ethics complaints against a senator must be filed within three years of an incident occurring, so Wegner was the only one of the three women who could file a complaint against Boulton. The other two alleged incidents occurred between 2002 and 2005.

It’s unclear what the Senate Ethics Committee can do about Wegner’s complaint. Although it has the authority to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against members of the Senate, Boulton was not a member of the Senate when the barroom incident occurred. He was first elected in November 2016, and sworn in as a senator in January 2017.

On Friday, Petersen announced that Boulton would receive no committee assignments for the next legislative session, until the complaint was resolved.

“I will defer making any committee assignments for Senator Boulton until the Senate Ethics Committee completes its ongoing investigation into the complaint filed against him,” Petersen said in a statement.

Boulton, who represents Des Moines in the Iowa Senate, is not up for reelection until 2020.

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