Report: Utah Democratic Party’s handling of sexual harassment complaints resulted in ‘fundamental failure’

Posted at 11:48 PM, Apr 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-27 10:04:49-04

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- A new report obtained by Fox 13 calls out the Utah Democratic Party for how it handled sexual harassment claims against a former candidate for party chair.

Two members of the Democratic National Committee from the State of Washington prepared the report, which took a thorough look at what the UDP did to investigate the two claims—one filed in 2017 and the second filed in 2018.

The review found that the UDP didn’t fully investigate the complaints, and stated the UDP didn’t follow party procedure in its investigations and offered suggestions that "addresses the fundamental failure that results from the handling of the two complaints and the then current procedures."

A copy of the report, dated March 10, was shared with Fox 13. It was sent to members of the Utah Democratic Party Executive Committee.

The first claim came in the form of a letter signed by seven women in 2017, alleging sexual harassment by Rob Miller. He was in the process of running for State Democratic Party Chair at the time.

Miller has publicly denied the claims, saying the claims were meant to sabotage his campaign. He dropped out of the race and left the party.

The second claim, according to the report, was filed in 2018 and contained allegations against Miller like the complaint in 2017.

It was filed after the UDP adopted “Anti-Harassment procedures,” the review stated.

The review found that in 2017, the UDP Substitute Judicial Committee didn’t hear the claim, “because the Accused was no longer a member or officer of the Democratic Party.”

In 2018, the report stated that the UDP Judicial Committee didn’t pursue the claims at that time either, because of the decision made by the Substitute Judicial Committee in 2017 not to continue forward.

“In our view the Party, in failing to reach any conclusion regarding the merits of the complaints submitted to it did not follow its then published procedures,” the review states.

The review points out that the UDP didn’t have to accept Miller’s resignation, because according to the rules, “A resignation sent in to escape charges need not be accepted.”

Had the UDP declined the resignation, the report concludes, it could have moved forward to process the complaint, “and adopt any measures to protect UDP membership that were deemed appropriate.”

"The UDP could have barred him from future participation or membership in the organization if it chose to do so based on its view of his past conduct,” the review says.

Party members like Nadia Mahallati, who said she is friends with some of the women in the original complaint, explained her frustration and disappointment when nothing came of the complaints.

“We suffered for two years of hanging in limbo, of not having any action be done,” she said.

To her, the report backs what she’s been saying for two years.

“To find out, to be kind of validated that there were all of these failures along the way that the party could have taken action to prevent where we are today-- and they didn't,” she said.

For Mahallati, it’s not just about complaints against one person that weren’t investigated. She said she’s worried about the big picture.

“Research shows when an organization doesn't take allegations or complaints of sexual harassment seriously, that sends the message to people in that organization that if they are harassed the organization won't do anything,” she said.

The report ended with several recommendations on how the UDP can improve its anti-harassment policy.

Utah Democratic Party Chairwoman Daisy Thomas declined to comment on the report.

Read the full report below: