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Sen. Gene Davis announces retirement after investigation prompts call for his resignation

State Sen. Gene Davis at his desk in the Utah State Senate building, May 2022.
Ivana Martinez
State Sen. Gene Davis at his desk in the Utah State Senate building, May 2022.

After Utah lawmakers on Wednesday demanded his resignation, Sen. Gene Davis announced through his attorney that he will retire in November. The sixth-term Democrat faces sexual misconduct allegations, including for inappropriately touching a former intern who was in college at the time. The statement from Davis' lawyer said he denies any wrongdoing but will retire because "recent events have made it impractical for him to continue his work in the Senate."

Davis' resignation ends a saga that began in August after a former intern posted on Instagram claims that Davis, 77, had inappropriately touched her, including her toes and waist, in multiple instances in their workplace.

In his resignation letter, posted on Twitter by the state Senate, Davis said he would resign effective Nov. 19, following the election and scheduled date of interim committee meetings. Davis is not on the ballot after he was defeated in the Democratic Party's June Primary.

His resignation follows public demands from Senate Pres. Stuart Adams and Davis' colleagues in the Senate Democratic caucus that Davis resign. An independent investigation commissioned by legislative leaders determined that it was “more likely than not” that Davis invaded former intern Sonia Weglinski's personal space, likely violating the Legislature’s Workplace Discrimination and Harassment policy.

It found her allegations to be more credible than Davis' recollections and accused him of not being forthcoming or completely honest.

“We strive to create and maintain to have a respectful and professional work environment and are committed to addressing any allegations," Senate President Stuart Adams said in a statement about the investigation and demands that Davis resign.

Weglinski's allegations are neither the first for Davis nor the Utah Legislature. They brought on broad condemnation from lawmakers and political groups, including the Utah Democratic Party and the Salt Lake County Democratic Party. They also ensnared campaign staff and party officials, who were accused of either knowing about the misconduct or not having procedures in place to act quickly upon becoming aware.

Updated: October 19, 2022 at 5:52 PM MDT
Updated with the retirement announcement provided by the attorney of Sen. Gene Davis.
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