The Capitol in Salt Lake City is pictured on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Utah Democrats apologize to alleged victims of uninvestigated harassment

By Cami Mondeaux, KSL NewsRadio | Posted - Apr. 1, 2021 at 6:26 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Democrats released a statement Thursday apologizing to victims of alleged sexual harassment within their own party — harassment allegations the party says went uninvestigated. In response, the party said it would re-examine how past leaders handled allegations to avoid future harassment.

The commitment comes in the wake of sexual harassment allegations within the Salt Lake County Republican Party, which led to the resignation of former GOP Chairman Scott Miller over the weekend. As allegations within the state GOP were uncovered, some Utah Democrats said the allegations of harassment were not unique to the right side of the aisle.

"On behalf of myself and the Utah Democratic Party, I want to apologize directly to those involved in this situation and to every member of our party for how this situation was handled," said Jeff Merchant, chair of the Utah Democratic Party, in a statement. "Neither I nor any other member of our current leadership can take responsibility for our predecessors. What we can do is commit to making our community a safer and more respectful place."

Along with their statement addressing past allegations, state Democrats said they would "renew our commitment to stopping harassment in all its forms within our ranks." Although the party previously implemented harassment protections and policies in 2019, leaders said they recognize the need to take it one step further — including steps to demand justice and accountability.

"As an institution, we commit to addressing the broad cultural issues involving harassment against all people and marginalized communities within our party and outside of it," the statement read. "In the process of our reconciliation, the UDP will work to both swiftly address any new allegations or concerns and to reach out to the victims of previous harassment to apologize, understand, and seek to remedy lingering concerns."

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