McMorrow files harassment complaint

State Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Royal Oak) on Tuesday, January 21, filed a two-page sexual harassment complaint with the Michigan Senate Business Office against fellow state Senator Pete Lucido (R-Shelby Township) for an incident which occurred in November 2018.

Both McMorrow and Lucido were elected to the Michigan Senate in November of 2018; Lucido previously served in the Michigan House of Representatives. Both he and McMorrow were attending new senator orientation in Lansing. McMorrow said she walked over to introduce herself to Lucido following a break after sexual harassment training.

"He reached out to shake my hand, and with the other hand, held very low on my back, with fingers grazing my hip and upper rear. He asked what my name was and where I was from," McMorrow stated in her complaint. "After a bit of back and forth, he asked, 'Who'd you run against?' I responded, 'I beat Marty Knollenberg." At that moment, still holding his hand on my low back, he looked me up and down, raised his eyebrows, and said, 'I can see why.'"

McMorrow, nearly half the age of Lucido, said it was clear at that moment that Lucido had no real interest in her background or experience. Rather, she said the implication was that she won because of the way she looks.

"In a split second, I was reduced to a piece of meat," she said.

State Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Bloomfield Township) said she witnessed the interaction. “We were in class together, meeting each other for the first time. I saw his hand on her back.” She said she didn't hear their interaction.

What Bayer did hear  was Lucido's reaction to the sexual harassment training. “He just got up and was strutting around and saying 'We're an old boys' club and nothing would ever change.' That their interns aren't paid and they're entitled to do what they want. He was being really obnoxious, and he thinks it's okay. I couldn't believe it. I didn't speak up during the class because I didn't want to be labeled 'the bra-burner' and not get anything done for eight years.”

McMorrow's complaint was filed one week after an encounter between Lucido and Michigan Advance capitol reporter Allison Donahue said Lucido allegedly told her "You should hang around. You could have a lot of fun with these boys, or they could have a lot of fun with you," referring to a group of high school students from his alma mater, De La Salle, whom he was entertaining.

Donahue wrote a story about the incident on Wednesday, January 15, in which she said she felt belittled.

"It seems easy to be a decent person, and I don't know why that's so challenging," McMorrow told Downtown newsmagazine. "A full week after Donahue's story, he still hadn't called her to apologize... then he said 'it doesn't matter what he said because she heard what she wanted.' That to me was unacceptable."

McMorrow said that prior to filing the complaint, she contacted Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey to let him know she was filing the complaint.

"I wanted him to hear it from me. I worked hard to build relationships in Lansing. Unfortunately, my bills haven't received a hearing, but that's more because I'm in the minority party and a freshman," McMorrow said. "The response from my district has been overwhelmingly responsive."

McMorrow said she anticipated blowback from people questioning why she waited so long to file the complaint, noting she hopes to show a pattern of behavior by Lucido, rather than a one-off mistake.

"If we have to get to a point where someone tells you they are uncomfortable, you have to listen," she said. "We need to build a culture where you respect people's boundaries, and when they tell you that you have crossed the line, you have to ask why."

Lucido did not return calls for comment.

McMorrow said Shirkey has indicated he will bring in outside council to investigate the Donahue incident, which will include her own statement. There is no formal timeline as to when an investigation will conclude.

"It makes me uncomfortable that we turn a blind eye to how we treat each other, as long as they are effective," she said. "I'm fine, but he still hasn't reached out. While an apology would be nice, it doesn't change the behavior."

Bayer pointed out that the staff of every senate office is made up of young women. “Something has to be done in this body, and something has to be done to him.”

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