Rep. Justin Parish, D-Juneau (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Rep. Parish faced sexual harassment complaint

Rep. Justin Parish, D-Juneau, was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint in February, the Juneau Empire confirmed Tuesday.

The document outlines a year and a half of unwanted public encounters that began before Parish’s election to the Legislature in November 2016. The encounters, documented in depth by the woman, included unwanted attention, flirting, phone calls and touching on the arms and torso. The woman repeatedly requested that he stop calling her and touching her.

Her complaint, according to records provided to the Empire, was delivered to the office of the Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham.

Edgmon ordered Parish to undergo additional sexual harassment training as a result of the complaint, which he completed.

Parish, when interviewed by the Empire Tuesday, said Edgmon’s order did not factor into his choice to not seek re-election.

“I was leaning this way before that decision (by Edgmon),” Parish said.

He then paused and declined further comment about the complaint.

[Rep. Justin Parish drops out of election; Assemblyman Rob Edwardson will run instead]

The facts of the complaint and the additional training were verified by the woman and two other individuals familiar with the matter. The Empire agreed to grant anonymity to allow them to speak about the subject.

Complaints against lawmakers — and the results of investigations that stem from those complaints — are confidential documents.

The Empire has been aware since February of the existence of at least one complaint against Parish but has been unable to confirm it until this week. When Parish told the Empire on Tuesday he was not running for re-election, the Empire confronted him with the allegation and asked whether it was a factor in his choice not to run.

When the woman learned that Parish had talked about the existence of the complaint with the Empire on Tuesday, she provided a copy of it.

Edgmon’s office has previously declined to comment on the matter and did so again Tuesday.

Earlier this month, reporter Becky Bohrer of the Associated Press learned that three lawmakers since 2008 have been investigated for allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct.

Two of those investigations — against Sen. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, and former Rep. Dean Westlake, D-Kotzebue — have been made public through releases by the relevant lawmakers. It is not clear whether this was the third investigation.

While Parish has declined to run for re-election, he said Tuesday that he will remain in office until his successor is elected and sworn in.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at jbrooks@juneauempire.com or 523-2258.


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