South Dakota State Senator Accused of Groping Male Page

Hearings are currently being held in Pierre, South Dakota over allegations by former legislative page Austin Wiese that Democratic state senator Dan Sutton groped him inappropriately last February when the two shared a Holiday Express motel room at the beginning of the page’s weeklong assignment in the legislature:

Suttonwiese_1“Wiese, who was staying with Sutton because Sutton was a close personal and family friend, told the committee that the two shared a king-sized bed. Sutton touched him repeatedly on the back and hips on the first night, Wiese testified. He said Sutton moved his hand over Wiese’s shorts on the second night, resting it over his genitals for 30 seconds to a minute.”

Nineteen-year-old Wiese, whose main evidence in the case is a secretly taped conversation by Agent Brian Zeeb of the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation in which there is no clear admission of wrongdoing by Sutton, says that he did not know in advance of his motel room stay with Sutton that there would only be one king-sized bed.

In the inconclusive tape, Sutton tells Wiese he does not recall the incident. Said Sutton: “Well I, I walk in my sleep. I, I move around. I mean Austin, I will do whatever I can. I am, I am sorry and if I. … Heck, obviously I, obviously I, if you remember, obviously I did it.”

Wiese told lawyers on the witness stand that he agreed Sutton never admitted to wrongdoing: “I’ll agree with you he never makes a 100 percent (admission). Just these references.”

Hearing are scheduled to continue today.

Comments

  1. Aaron says

    Great. Another closeted politician is innappropriate with a page.

    The story does seem strange though. Why didn’t the 19 year old adult resist if the advance is unwanted? I mean, on the second night his hand rested over the genital area for 30 seconds to a minute? Seems strange to me that he wouldn’t freak out or at least do something.

    I’m sure it prolly happened, I just think the page might be playing up the “unwanted” part a bit to cash in. Just my thought.

  2. Andrew says

    Aaron, I tend to agree with you. While it may never be appropriate to ‘blame the victim’, if someone groped my business without my approval I would go ape-shit.

  3. RJP3 says

    Reeks of bullshit.
    Not a child.
    A man.
    Guys his age are fighting and dying in IRAQ.

    Say sorry man – not my scene – not interested. And move on. NO harrassment yet from what i see.

    Climbing in bed and letting someone feel you up without complaint may lead them to grope you the following night – that is how men test each other out.

    Say no brothers if not interested.

  4. patrick nyc says

    “Wiese, who was staying with Sutton because Sutton was a close personal and family friend”

    The fact that the guy was friends with the kids family could be the reason he did not know how to repond. While he is 19, not all those over the age of 17 are adult in their behaviour or their life experiences. He may in fact have issues with his own sexuality, which Sutton clearly does, and sounds like he took advantage of the younger kid.

  5. dattexas says

    While I tend to aqree with RJP3, the issue here is the position of authority. If someone grabs you at the gym, then just say no. If your boss grabs you at the gym, that’s illegal.

  6. Matt says

    Oh my! I can’t believe it! A Democrat sexually harrassed someone. I can’t believe that it even got coverage on this blog since the Democrats are so revered on this site. I’m sure that this is just a play by the Evangelicals and Right-Winged Republicans to shame this good Democrat.

  7. Stephen says

    I agree with RJP3 and add:

    He (the page) stayed in same bed first night and allowed the touching of his back and hips.
    This sends more of a green light, whereas, if the first night touching concerned the page, he could have opted for a separate bed I would think.

    And what’s his motive here? Sutton now may have profesional/personal/family fallout, but I question the young man’s motive other than to “get it off his chest because it was bothering him.” Anything else is self-serving.

    Throw the case out.

  8. dattexas says

    Um, since when is it proper conduct to touch first and and ask questions later? If you’re that hard up, then go to a gay bar or the baths. You people forget that some don’t want to be touched, and you don’t have the right to put your hand on someone’s dick hoping they’ll react the way you want them to. And unless the guy asked to be touched on his hip or anywhere else, some responsibility has to be placed on Sutton.

  9. Nomen Nominum says

    Why would a 19 year old be sharing a bed with an older man if not for sex? I don’t believe that hotel rooms in South Dakota are extremely expensive. The whole story is weird. Newsflash to 19 year olds: If you get into bed with somebody, that person might touch you!

  10. eclecticon says

    It does sound suspicious, but I am reminded of the “she was asking for it” defence that so many alleged rapists used (at least before it was shut down up here in Canada).

    Things get particularly murky when you have an obvious power imbalance (family friend – probably of the parents – AND elected official/legislator v. barely legal kid). You’re lying in bed in the middle of the night and this hand comes creeping out at you – I know at that age (and in my closeted state) I wouldn’t have known what to do for a few seconds (although a minute seems a bit much).

    I guess I’m saying there isn’t enough evidence to judge one way or another…not yet.

  11. anon says

    I’d hate to compare quotes above with the Foley case, which did not even involve physical contact. This does sound like classic work-related sexual harrassment, which as we all know, should lead to the dismissal of the accused. However, the main lapse in judgment was sharing a bed (??). If they found out too late that they would have to share a bed, the proper thing would have been for one of them to sleep on the floor or couch if there was one, or if possible get a separate room. End of story. However, if the SS were asleep and was simply moving around in his sleep (which is hard to prove one way or another) then this was inadvertant contact and not harassment. The legal exposure here ranges from unwanted sexual advances (assault), battery, sexual assault to rape, none of which are minor offenses. In the civil realm there is workplace harassment to negligence that can be considered. He could be toast. (Many states shield lawmakers and other state officials from civil proceedings through a general immunity clause).

  12. dattexas says

    Yawn….The only way this could be interesting is if Wiese is pregnant.
    _____________________________________

    Yeah, sure. You found it interesting enough to click the comments button and write a comment.

  13. Andrew says

    Let’s be honest. He laid there for ‘almost a minute’ While dude jerked him? If a good porno is on, I can do it in 30 seconds. So evidently the older Statesman was not doing it correctly. Dude was either real drunk-or real gay, and not interested.

  14. anon says

    Upon further reflection, he probably cannot be charged with rape according to most state laws, but I’m sure there will be some consequences.

  15. says

    I love how most of y’all give this guy a pass but when it was Foley (republican), you condemed him and screamed to high heaven about his guilt. What freaking hypocrites? Maybe the kid is secretly in the employ of the RNC. He prob went to bed dressed in a suggestive manner and was asking for it.
    And yet he goes back for it a second night.

  16. Da says

    This story is sad, for both parties..Just goes to show how repressed people are, that they could not have this conversation beforehand.

    Also I wouldn’t be too harsh on the 19y old, cause unless you’ve been touched without consent then you don’t know how to react: with a respected person it’s the “polite” solution to try and let it slide, and pretend it did not happen.

    It’s not wise to see life through a pornographic lense, and think every twink is dying to be molested by an older man..And let’s even pretend he’s curious: who says this man is his type, or if he doesn’t find him repulsive? There’s no way to know really.

  17. Wells. says

    “Oh, I must have just done it while I was sleeping” is complete bullshit. He knew what he was doing, which is why he tested the kid the first night and moved in for the kill on the second.

    Feeling up your friend’s son is just gross; a legislator feeling up a page is sexual harassment. Who cares what party he’s in; this isn’t OK.

  18. RB says

    I am totally amazed that many of the posts are accusing the 19 year old or questioning this! The only reason this is not getting the attention it deserves here is because he was a democrat! Let a repub, Foley for example, get caught doing something and they are roasted and strung up!!!

    Very hypocritical. NO GROWN MAN SLEEPS IN THE SAME BE WITH A KID, YOUNG ADULT OR ANOTHER MAN WITHOUT HAVING A REASON! The sharing of a bed is absolutely unacceptable and the fairness by which this dem is being treated is disgusting!

    He deserves the same regard as Foley. Anyone that can hold back on him for his actions because he is a dem is totally wrong.

  19. noah says

    Jeez, some of you people are cynical creeps. Get real. This kid knew this guy as a family friend. How dare you impugn the character of this kid. Do you know how hard it must have been for him to come forward to seek justice?

    Sometimes, I find myself disgusted with the catty bullshit that passes for enlightened comments. Maybe it was your fantasy as a kid to be felt up by an older man, but it’s not everyone’s. Shockingly, some people, gay or straight at age 19, just don’t know what to do in this kind of situation.

    But, blame the victim is A.O.K. for porn-saturated cynics who can’t empathize with someone in this kind of situation.

    The senator admitted he did but couched his words.

  20. oh please says

    Who gives a shit if “Shockingly, some people, gay or straight at age 19, just don’t know what to do in this kind of situation.”? Guess what, part of being an adult is being able to tell some gross old todger trying to beat you off to go fuck off and leave you alone. If you can’t do that, well tough shit, you can vote, smoke, drive, go to war and kill people, act in porn movies and pretty much anything else adults are alowed to do at that age. grow up.

  21. mark m says

    This isnt about what is “gross” or who is an adult or a kid. This is an abuse of power. A subordinate was fondled by his boss. This behavior cannot be tolerated, no matter how much the subordinate may question his own sexuality. The responsibility of the Statesman trumps any motivation of the 19 year old.

    And lastly, to address the Republicans who (predictably) went after the hypocrisy on this thread, your Party is the one that espouses family values and endorses legislation on lifestyles, so yes we’re going to call out Foley, who illustrated how hypocritical your Party truly is. You’re all old enough to know exactly how this political “game” is played, so don’t cry foul when politics plays a role in how some people view a scandal.

    Most of you pointing fingers have the same political agenda and you know it.

  22. RB says

    Ok, MarkM, I will bite. It seems as though your comments were loosly aimed at me anyway.

    The only thing “predictable” about this is that the dems will NOT hold this man as accountable as Foley and that is WRONG!!! Yes, the repubs do espouse family values but hang their own out to dry when they have done wrong and yet the dems seem to look the other way. I can assure you that Gerry Studds, democratic congressman from Massachusetts 1973-1997, would NOT have been treated the same by the repubs after his little trist with a 17 year old page. He would have been OUT on his ear!!! And yet the party of the people and for the “people” seem to conveniently look the other way and ONLY censure him! Right is right and he went FAR FURTHER THAN FOLEY and yet he remained in congress and we threw Foley to the dogs. So when you speak of equality and hypocrisy look no further than your own party my friend as it exists EVERYWHERE! The difference is how it is handled.

    Let’s just call a spade a spade shall we. And while we are being so candid, ANYONE, and I mean anyone that places themselves in this position deserves the fullest extent of punishment regardless of party and this man is guilty; period! Asleep and rolled over…BS! NO GROWN MAN SLEEPS IN THE SAME BED WITH A KID, YOUNG ADULT OR MAN WITHOUT AN ULTERIOR MOTIVE! That in and of itself makes him guilty of inappropriate behavior.

    My concern is where are the vultures? Who is stepping up to denounce this man? Where is the justice in this clearly wrong case? He deserves the same treatment and vile words as Foley and yet they are absent. Why? What is the difference?

    Lastly, I want to address your “hypocrisy” comment. You do not have to venture far inside the dem party to find it. Afterall, I would go hunting with Dick Cheney anyday before I would go for a car ride with Ted Kennedy. So the next time you want to take on the “hypocrisy” test be cautious to remember history my friend. Scandal afterall is no stranger to EITHER PARTY!

  23. Da says

    I wish people could just talk tho…say what it’s their minds, cause lust is not shameful. It’s touching without consent that is..

    And the senator should have listened to this song by Shania Twain, cause she always says it best:)

    “If You Wanna Touch Him, Ask!”

    Let me let you in on a secret
    How to treat a man right
    If you’re lookin’ for a place in his heart
    It ain’t gonna happen overnight

    First you gotta learn to listen
    To understand his deepest thoughts
    He needs to know you can be friends
    Before he’ll give you all he’s got

    If you start from the heart
    You’ll see love is gonna play its part

    If you wanna get to know him
    Really get inside his mind
    If you wanna move in closer
    Take it slow, yeah take your time
    You must start from the heart and then…
    If you wanna touch him
    Really wanna touch him
    If you wanna touch him, ask!

  24. RB says

    DA, I love Shania as much as anyone, but she is NOT singing about inappropriate behavior between an adult man and a young male! Apples and oranges…

  25. Da says

    RB, well I’m sure there are a lot of ethical reasons why some would consider it wrong either way, but legally it wouldn’t be since they’re both adults.

    What it’d be is just another illicit romance on a business trip..

  26. RB says

    No, DA, it would NOT be just another illicit romance. Had this happened in the private sector it would have been way BEYOND SEXUAL HARASSMENT and Sutton would have instantly been found guilty. The 19 year old, regardless of age, would have been made very wealthy!

    The issue is right, wrong and the hypocricy of the situation. Simply stated, this case is MUCH WORSE THAN THE FOLEY CASE AND YET IT HAS BEEN SWEPT UNDER THE RUG!

    I have posted here at length about teenagers and their maturity level. I am a staunch supporter of a “minor” being a minor and NOT an adult. However, in this case it is an abuse of power that is the real issue. Yes the 19 year old is of age, but his employer bears responsibility beyond his age! He is the “employer” in this situation. There are strict sexual harassment laws in place to protect the public from this type of behavior whether you are a politician or not. Again, this is about what is right.

    And to my most important point, Sutton is not being crucified because he is a dem. Had he been a repub he would have already been nailed to the cross and left for dead!!!!! Double standards my friend and that is NOT appropriate.

  27. TDG says

    You can’t persecute him too badly, he’s a democrat, they are allowed by the constitution of the politically correct to do just about anything they want – it’s cool they stand up for the little guy.

  28. TheRector says

    Why do we have to hold gay people to a higher standard? A little touchy feeley is the end of the world? Where are the scars? Can this boy not go on and become a good Christian father of twelve or a good leather boy?
    A hundred years ago in this same country we had 14 year olds get married and fight bears in the wilderness, and now this poor “boy” can’t stand up and sleep in the chair?
    Good gawd, we are all a bunch of pansies.

  29. Antaeus says

    Just one note on Gerry Studds – since I hate to see this case misapplied. The Republican Congressman Dan Crane was caught fucking a 17-yr old girl who was his own page. That scandal broke in the early eighties. Since the Repervlicans are always arguing for moral equivalence, they had to then drag out what Studds had done a decade earlier (ever notice that?). So, the by-then 27-yr old male ex-page, who was a lot more out than some of the self-oppressed posters here – stood by Studds and affirmed the non-harassing nature of their tryst. How unlike Republicans – have any of Foley’s AIM correspondents acknowledged their gayness? I thought so!