SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) Veteran Utah legislator Patrice Arent revealed today that she was the victim of sexual misconduct when she was an intern, long before her 17-year stint as a senator and representative in the legislature.
The Democrat who represents district 36 (Millcreek-Holladay) would not say specifically what happened or who did it. “I have had some very inappropriate comments made to me. I’ve had inappropriate touching. It hasn’t gone beyond that because I haven’t let it go beyond that.”
She didn’t report it back then because she was young and just an intern. “It’s hard to respond to this, to know what to say. You’re concerned you’re going to lose your job.”
But of sexual misconduct at the State Capitol she says it “involves our interns, our staff, the legislators.”
She made the revelation to ABC4 Utah’s Randall Carlisle claiming it’s time people come forward. She also told him that she’s not being overly sensitive.
“People joke that I’m a Jewish mom. I like to hug people and I hug people a lot.”
“I’m talking about inappropriate hugs. Touching someone on their behind, on their breasts, things like that.”
She says there are now training sessions and rules in place for legislators, but it may still be going on and a perpetrator may still be there.
She’s heard about a case of sexual harassment of an intern just last year. “I was told something happened last session. I was not there to see it, but those people are still in the legislature. So I have no reason to believe that it’s completely gone or that it’s still happening.”
Arent expects a bill to pass in the next session that would apply to sexual misconduct on the part of lobbyists.
As for the storm of sexual misconduct allegations sweeping the country, she says it’s about time because it’s been going on for far too long and has simply been swept until the carpet.
“I think what we’re learning is that this has been going on for a long time and that women are now talking about it. I think that’s good that people are talking about it now and that it’s not acceptable.”