ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Facing accusations of sexual harassment, Rep. Dean Westlake, D-Kiana, announced today that he plans to resign from office.
Westlake said in a statement provided by the House Majority: “As recent allegations of my behavior have superseded discussions about my constituents, my ability to serve them has been diminished. The conversation about my behavior has been elevated above the needs of my district, and that is not why I ran for office. I am not more important than the people who put me in my seat. My district has, and always should, come first."
The state Democratic party and House leadership called for Westlake to stand down after a series of women working at the state capital came forward to describe unwanted advances, unwelcome hugs and sexually charged remarks. Those encounters were described in a Dec. 8 report by the Anchorage Daily News.
The announcement also comes as Channel 2 prepared a report on a child Westlake fathered with a teenage girl in 1988 when Westlake was 28. The girl was 16 when she gave birth to the daughter, who was established as Westlake’s child in a 1990 paternity claim filed by the state division of child support enforcement.
Westlake worked off and on as a Kotzebue police officer at that time in his life, throughout the 1980s and early ’90s. City records show he was not employed by the city at the time of the child’s birth.
Docs:— Kyle Hopkins (@kylehopkinsAK) December 16, 2017
1. The relevant sexual abuse of a minor statute that was on the books in 1988/89. (via Leg ref. library)
2. Questions that Westlake has not answered.
3. Daughter Joslynn Little's response to Westlake request to kill that element of the story for her "protection". pic.twitter.com/8RtyiPyVRZ
A staffer for Westlake asked Thursday night that a story on the birth be withheld because Westlake wanted to protect the mother and daughter.
The daughter, Joslynn Little, now 29, responded in a message to KTUU. "This is the first I’ve ever heard in my entire life of him caring to protect my mother or myself,” she wrote.
Westlake’s office has so far not responded to questions about the child, including what age the mother was when Westlake began a sexual relationship with her. The mother of the child was born Jan. 16, 1972. Little was born Oct. 26, 1988.
In 1988, it was illegal under state law for an adult to have sex with a person younger than 16.
Olivia Garrett, a former legislative staffer, first accused Westlake of harassment at a Nov. 30 Democratic party meeting in Anchorage.
“Mostly Anchorage-based party leadership started campaigning for someone running in a rural House district and they were told by folks who grew up in that area, ‘This guy is bad news. You can’t campaign for him,’” Garrett said at the time. “And now Dean Westlake is in public office and he has harassed maybe eight people … I am one of them.”
On Wednesday Westlake admitted to Channel 2 that he has previously been investigated for sexual harassment but would not say which of his previous employers conducted the investigation. Women in Anchorage and Barrow have said that in more recent years, Westlake sent them suggestive texts or images, in some cases despite their requests for him to stop.
An Utqiagvik (Barrow) woman says Rep. Dean Westlake sent her a series of unwanted texts in 2014 despite her requests for him to stop. pic.twitter.com/XNIjrdxDg2— Kyle Hopkins (@kylehopkinsAK) December 15, 2017
After Westlake's announcement, the Alaska Democratic Party chair Casey Steinau thanked Westlake for his service, saying, "the Party is pleased and believe Representative Westlake made the right decision. We are committed to our zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy."
Jay Parmley, executive director for the Alaska Democrats, said Gov. Bill Walker will have 30 days following Westlake's effective resignation to appoint a replacement. Three names of possible candidates will be selected by party officials in Westlake's North Slope and Northwest Arctic district and forwarded by the party for Walker to consider.