Schwertner lawyers say UT violated state, federal laws

Gracie Awalt

State Sen. Charles Schwertner’s lawyers released a statement Wednesday saying the information provided to the press by three UT officials about a current sexual harassment investigation violates state and federal laws, and the University should make an official statement relieving him of these allegations.

“These officials deliberately set out to leak these false allegations to the press in order to damage Senator Schwertner in the middle of a political campaign,” the statement said. “There is no other plausible explanation.”

A UT graduate student claimed state Sen. Charles Schwertner sent her a sexually explicit image and text message after meeting her at an on-campus event this summer, the Austin American-Statesman reported last week. UT is in the process of investigating the allegation.

The Statesman reported two UT officials said the student and Schwertner exchanged LinkedIn information at the summer event, and later began text messaging. The student said Schwertner sent, “I just really want to f— you,” alongside an image of his genitals. One UT official has seen the photo, and said it does not include Schwertner’s face.

Schwertner’s lawyers said in the statement that the UT officials responsible for releasing information on the investigation should be identified, questioned and terminated for “compromising the integrity of the investigation.”

“Whether intentional or not, the illegal actions of these officials have sent the press out to try and identify the University student that received these texts,” the statement said. “We have received countless calls from the press attempting to acquire her name.”

The University hired former United States attorney Johnny Sutton for the investigation. Schwertner’s lawyers said in the statement that Sutton was fair-minded and that they believe he will discover Schwertner was wrongly accused.

“We stand ready to provide forensic evidence and interviews upon his request,” the statement said. “Senator Schwertner is devastated that the graduate student involved received any texts of this nature from anyone. He is deeply sorry that his own notoriety has dragged her into this mess.”