An incoming Missouri lawmaker accused of rape by a future legislative colleague issued a statement Monday saying the allegations against him are “completely and unequivocally false.”
Steven Roberts Jr., a St. Louis Democrat, is set to begin his first term serving in the Missouri House of Representatives in January. He has been accused of rape by Cora Faith Walker, a Ferguson Democrat also set to begin her first Missouri House term in January.
Roberts issued a statement Monday saying his relationship with Walker was consensual. He called it “unbelievable” that she would come to his apartment late at night “strictly for business.”
In an interview Monday afternoon with The Star, Walker said Roberts is engaging in “typical victim blaming.”
“I don’t even really want to dignify his exact statement with a response,” she said.
According to Walker the alleged assault took place in late August, when she met with Roberts at his St. Louis apartment to discuss the upcoming legislative session. She says she had two glasses of wine, then remembers nothing until she awoke the next morning.
She believes Roberts drugged and raped her. She filed a police report, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that law enforcement sources confirmed there is an active investigation into Walker’s allegations.
Walker also sent a letter to House Speaker Todd Richardson, House Minority Leader Jake Hummel and House Assistant Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty requesting that they not allow Roberts to be sworn in until an investigation is complete.
In a statement released through his attorney, Roberts said he has “strong and indisputable evidence that documents the consensual nature of our encounter in August.”
“There are a number of other facts and details that make my case,” Roberts said, “but I cannot release them at this time due to the ongoing investigation.”
He says he and Walker have “been intimate in the past before August, and our contact had been increasing over the last year as we campaigned for our respective offices.”
Roberts’ statement continues: “Mrs. Walker’s letter to legislative leaders a few days ago makes an unbelievable statement that she, an attorney and married woman, went to another man’s apartment at 9:30 p.m. on a Friday night for strictly a business meeting. We actually arrived together to my apartment closer to 11:00 p.m. While I am not proud of this situation, it was entirely consensual and I did nothing illegal.”
Roberts is a former assistant St. Louis prosecutor and the son of a former St. Louis alderman. He faced earlier sexual-assault allegations involving another woman, but no charges were filed.
Walker said any previous interactions with Roberts are “irrelevant to anything that happened on the night in question.”
The insinuation in Roberts’ statement that simply being in his apartment at night means she was consenting to sex “is a clear demonstration of rape culture and the normalization of sexual violence,” she said.
“This type of victim blaming is the exact reason why so many survivors have stayed silent,” she said. “I’ve gotten emails from survivors all over the country who say they’ve never had the courage to come forward. It’s because of people like Mr. Roberts who try to victim blame survivors to keep them quiet about their experiences.”
Earlier Monday, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri released a statement asking Richardson to “postpone the swearing-in of Steven Roberts Jr. as state representative for the 77th House District until the investigation has come to a conclusion.”
“We commend Ms. Walker’s bravery in speaking out in a culture that makes it difficult for women to report sexual assaults and all too often diminishes their legitimacy and leaves them targets for retribution,” said Alison Dreith, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri.
Richardson released a statement Saturday saying House leadership would “monitor the criminal investigation closely and continue to have a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault, misconduct and harassment.”