In 2011, Michael B. Hancock became Denver’s second African American mayor. In 2015, he was overwhelmingly re-elected in a landslide victory with 80% of the vote. Now, he is being accused of sexual harassment.
According to the Denver Post, Hancock sent inappropriate text messages to Detective Leslie Branch-Wise, who was on his security detail his first year in office. She came forward for the first time in an interview last night, saying, “I just want people to know that I’m a woman, I have children and I’m a victim of sexual harassment. It made me physically sick. It was extremely scary. And I dealt with it at that time the best way that I could.”
Per The Denver Post, “That meant staying silent about the mayor’s ‘crushing’ conduct, and, amid allegations that a mayoral aide also was harassing her, requesting a transfer off Hancock’s security detail.”
Some of the text messages he sent read: “So I just watched this story on women taking pole dancing classes. Have you ever taken one? Why do women take the course? If not, have you ever considered taking one and why? Your thoughts?” After seeing her on television at a Denver Nuggets game, Mayor Hancock wrote, “You look sexy in all that black.” Another time, he complimented her hair, writing, “You make it hard on a brotha to keep it correct every day.”
Hancock said he did not believe the texts were sexual harassment, but he admitted they were inappropriate to send, saying, “Detective Branch-Wise served with me probably eight or nine months. We became friends, and I blurred the lines between our friendship and being a boss. And these text messages are inappropriate. They’re too familiar, too casual. For that, I accept responsibility, and I apologize.” He also added there was no physical contact and “I wish I knew six years ago that Detective Branch-Wise felt these made her uncomfortable. … Had I known that, I would have apologized then — and certainly would not have continued to have that kind of banter.”
Branch-Wise claims she came forward because an anonymous letter was sent to news network Denver7. Watch Leslie Branch-Wise’s interview below: