Archive for Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Page says state senator groped him in motel room

January 24, 2007

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— A former legislative page told lawmakers Tuesday that a state senator sexually groped him last year while the two shared a motel room at the start of the young man's weeklong stint in the Legislature.

A lawyer for the Senate identified the page as Austin Wiese, 19, whose family was close to Sen. Dan Sutton.

The Senate has accused Sutton of sexual misconduct. He could be censured, disciplined or expelled when the full Senate votes on the matter. The vote is expected Jan. 31.

South Dakota's attorney general and other law enforcement agents investigated the allegations and made no arrests.

Wiese told the committee Tuesday that he and Sutton shared a motel room for two nights last February in Fort Pierre. On the first night, he said, he did not realize ahead of time that the room had only one king-size bed and alleged that he was awakened repeatedly by Sutton touching him on his side, back and hip.

Wiese said he kept repositioning himself and turning over. "I was stunned and didn't know what to do," he said.

On the second night, Wiese said Sutton touched his genitals. Wiese said he hopped out of bed, claiming he had missed a cell phone call, and left the room. He stayed elsewhere the next night.

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