UPDATE: State Rep. Josh Zepnick releases statement following accusations of kissing women without their consent
Updated: 9:00 a.m. on December 2, 2017
UPDATE: MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- In an email sent late Friday night, State Rep. Josh Zepnick issued this statement in response to the article published in the Cap Times.
"As a recovering alcoholic, I have confronted and apologized for many mistakes I made during my years of irresponsible drinking.
While I have no recollection of these alleged incidents, there is never an excuse for inappropriate behavior.
I take the claims seriously and respect the feelings of the women involved. I apologize to both women for my actions and for any distress that I may have caused.
My life is back on track and I've been sober for over 2 years. I will not be resigning and I will continue to work hard on behalf of my constituents."
Posted: 7:50 p.m. on December 1, 2017
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- In an article published Friday night by the Cap Times, State Rep. Josh Zepnick is accused of kissing multiple women without their consent.
The article claims the incidents happened in 2011, and 2015, at political functions.
According to the Cap Times, one women claims she was working at a 2011 election night party when Zepnick "walked over to say hello, but this time he also grabbed my shoulders and he kissed me."
Another women claims Zepnick drunkenly kissed her at a 2015 political event at the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino.
Zepnick has been representing Milwaukee's south-side since 2002.
The reporter who published the article, Jessie Opoien, says she's been working on the story for a number of weeks. Both women wished to remain anonymous. Opoien says she corroborated their stories with friends and co-workers.
“Both of these women were able to point me in the direction of co-workers and friends who they had spoken to at the time about it," she says.
“I was able to look at some text messages and things that had gone through at the time to see the conversations these women had been having with friends and coworkers about their experience.”
Neither reported the events at the time, but felt like it was important to come forward now.
"What they both said was they wanted to talk about it now because of the way the culture has changed," says Opoien. “These were things that had stood out over time, and that they felt warranted talking about now.”
Calls to Zepnick's office was not returned Friday night, and nobody answered the gate at his locked Milwaukee residence.
In a statement to the Cap Times, Zepnick neither confirms, nor denies the claims:
“No legislative staffer ever confronted me with any such allegation nor did their employer; nor anyone from Legislative Leadership or the Assembly Chief Clerk office. No one from the Democratic party staff has ever said anything to me, and since that time, I have had many interactions with political staff which have been professional, positive, and without any suggestion of this type of activity.”