Texas state Sen. Charles Schwertner doubled down on his denial of sending sexually explicit messages to a graduate student by hiring legal counsel on Wednesday amid his re-election campaign, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Reports emerged Tuesday that the GOP candidate and practicing orthopedic surgeon had allegedly texted a female student at the University of Texas saying, “I just really want to f— you,” in addition to sending a picture of his genitals.
The woman said she had met Schwertner, a UT alumnus, during an on-campus event and expressed interest in working in the state legislature. The woman reported Schwertner to the university after the alleged exchange, according to unnamed school officials. The woman was not named in the report.
Schwertner, 48, has denied the woman’s claims. In a joint statement, Schwertner’s attorneys said, “We have spent hours with Senator Schwertner and others regarding these claims. Senator Schwertner did not send any inappropriate texts as alleged. Period.”
Women must feel safe in schools, work, at home and the Texas Capitol. Women must be believed and heard when these incidents occur, no matter if the offender is a boss, friend, U.S. Supreme Court nominee or Texas state senator.
Meanwhile, Schwertner’s Democratic challenger, Meg Walsh, was quick to link the Senator to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh who is embroiled in sexual assault allegations by three women ahead of his Friday confirmation.
“Like most Texas women, I have dealt with workplace harassment throughout my career,” Walsh said. “Women must feel safe in schools, work, at home and the Texas Capitol. Women must be believed and heard when these incidents occur, no matter if the offender is a boss, friend, U.S. Supreme Court nominee or Texas state senator.”
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick accused UT officials of “potentially jeopardizing the integrity of a serious investigation,” by contacting the media.
“I am calling on the university to complete their inquiry in a professional manner, protecting the privacy rights of both parties,” Patrick said.
Schwertner’s attorneys insisted the public hold judgement “until (Schwertner) is afforded the opportunity for a fair process to occur.”
They said Schwertner has been “in contact with the University of Texas to resolve the matter.” The university said it will ban the GOP senator from the campus if the allegations are true.
I am calling on the university to complete their inquiry in a professional manner, protecting the privacy rights of both parties.
Schwertner was elected to the state House in 2010 and Senate in 2012. He will face Walsh in the November midterms.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.