FRIDAY UPDATE: KUNC’s Bente Birkeland debunks Steve Lebsock’s claim of exoneration via polygraph:
Lebsock paid $350 for the polygraph test. While he said it completely exonerates him, an expert in the validity of polygraph testing said the test “doesn’t have much credibility.”
“The tests themselves are not supported by scientific evidence,” said William Iacono, a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota.
He has served as an expert witness in 50 trials and published many papers on the topic.
“They have a weak foundation in terms of their accuracy,” Iacono said, adding “and then one that is arranged by the person to serve their own benefit is one certainly that shouldn’t be trusted.”
Lebsock’s contention that he is “fully exonerated” based on a polygraph that appears to only focus on allegations made by one of ten or more women who have accused him of misconduct is unhinged enough that it invites basic questions about his competency. Yesterday’s press conference centering on this polygraph test did nothing to help Lebsock in his defense–only revealing that the depth of his denial is very, very deep.
What’s it going to take to convince this serial offender that it’s time to accept reality?
For everyone’s sake, we hope it doesn’t take much more. This is difficult to watch.
The latest chapter in the sordid tale of alleged serial harassment by Democratic Rep. Steve Lebsock of Adams County, unfolding today with a press conference and a new bizarre statement from Lebsock proclaiming his innocence, is raising questions about whether Lebsock even understands the seriousness of his situation–as 9NEWS updates:
Lebsock, who remains a candidate for state treasurer, claimed in a news release on Thursday that he “was exonerated this week when he voluntarily participated in and passed a polygraph test asking critical questions about allegations made against him by Faith Winter.”
…When the accusations surfaced a month ago, Lebsock offered an apology to Winter, saying that he had a “number of drinks” at the party and “I do not remember ever saying anything that was out of line.”
Based on the transcript of the polygraph posted to his campaign website Tuesday morning, Lebsock’s memory appears to have improved.
The Denver Post’s Christopher Osher:
Rep. Steve Lebsock, a Thornton Democrat who also is running for state treasurer, added that he is willing to take additional polygraphs and release the results. Nine legislators, lobbyists or staffers have accused Lebsock of sexually inappropriate conduct, and he faces two formal complaints. He said the allegations are politically motivated…
Winter said Lebsock’s polygraph results mean little.
“Sexual harassment is about power,” Winter said in a prepared statement. “This is another abuse of power by Lebsock, who is desperate to sway the investigation. But everybody knows what happened; he’s a serial offender. I will not be bullied.”
We don’t want to spend too much time arguing the validity of polygraph examinations to determine truthfulness, because outside of TV court dramas and pseudoscientific quackery they don’t have much credibility at all:
Polygraph examinations are considered so unreliable that they can’t be used as evidence during civil or criminal trials in Colorado.
And yet, on the strength of a polygraph test he paid to have administered to himself, Lebsock is declaring himself exonerated–and opens the door for accused harassers everywhere to say the same when called out by that pesky #metoo movement:
“Steve Lebsock is the first elected leader in America to prove his innocence since the #MeToo movement started in October of this year by passing a polygraph,” Thursday’s statement said. [Pols emphasis]
This latest round of denial and victim-blaming from Lebsock directly contradicts his previous apologies to some of the alleged victims in the immediate aftermath of the initial disclosures. As 9NEWS correctly reports above, Lebsock previously claimed he “didn’t remember” what he might have said or done in Rep. Winter’s case–only to be completely sure about what he didn’t say or do in time for this polygraph test.
Which is bullshit.
What this all boils down to, of course, is the idea that not just his initial public accuser Rep. Faith Winter but numerous women inside the Colorado Capitol building who have accused Lebsock of inappropriate conduct are all lying in concert for the purposes of bringing Lebsock down. Lebsock’s claim of “political motives” for this action make little sense, since nothing about this is politically beneficial to anyone. Even more important, before this situation erupted nobody cared about Lebsock’s political future one way or the other. Lebsock’s candidacy for Treasurer wasn’t gaining anything you’d call traction, but there was also no particular animus against Lebsock either–except for perhaps the women he had harassed who hadn’t been heard yet.
What we’re trying to say is that Lebsock’s allegations of “political motives” for the accusations against him from as almost a dozen women are the worst kind of nonsense. There are no political benefits to be gained from putting a stop to sexual harassment in the Colorado General Assembly, it’s a moral and (in theory) bipartisan obligation. If anything, the growing contrast between Democrats holding the bad actors in their midst accountable and Republicans covering for their own all the way to the White House makes Lebsock’s position less politically tenable, but that’s not the fault of Lebsock’s accusers. Lebsock chose to be a member of the party that is actually trying to to be part of the solution instead of the problem.
And the problem in this case is Steve Lebsock. Not all these women. Steve Lebsock.
It’s over. Resign.