Insurance policy covered sexual assault lawsuit settlement, Roberts campaign says | Policy

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JEFFERSON CITY — State Sen. Steve Roberts Jr. said Thursday that “my family and I haven’t paid a dime” to settle a lawsuit filed by a woman who accused the congressional candidate of sexual assault.

But an insurance company that Roberts’ family had a policy with has paid Amy Harms, the woman who accused Roberts, $100,000 as part of a settlement agreement, Roberts’ congressional campaign said Thursday.

“Against Mr. Roberts’ wishes, an insurance company reached a settlement agreement, which Ms. Harms has now breached,” said Simonne Kimble, deputy director of communications for the Roberts campaign, in a mailed statement. electronic. “(Neither) Steve Roberts nor anyone in the Roberts family paid anyone a dime.”

The statement followed a Tuesday report in The Intercept that Roberts had settled a civil lawsuit filed by Harms for $100,000 in 2019. Harms had accused Roberts of sexual assault four years earlier at a St. Louis bar.

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The Intercept reported that the settlement included a confidentiality agreement and a waiver of claims against Roberts. The Intercept report did not say who paid the $100,000, and the Roberts campaign did not comment on the payment to the Intercept, saying nothing he reported was “factual.” or balanced.

Roberts’ campaign sent the Post-Dispatch a June 2017 letter from an insurance company, Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange, or PURE, which said “we may investigate and settle any claim or lawsuit at our discretion.”

The company, based in White Plains, New York, said it does not cover expenses related to sexual assault or injury resulting from criminal or intentional acts. The Roberts family had “owners” and “personal surplus” coverage with the company, according to the letter.

“The PURE policy specifically excludes (sic) coverage for sexual assault and injury expected or intentional by an insured,” the letter states. “In light of these exclusions, we see no coverage under your policies for the alleged (sic) claims.”

But the insurance company never found Harms’ claims to be true, said Ryan Hawkins, another campaign spokesman.

“What he’s basically saying is if you’ve done that, you have no coverage,” he said. “The insurance company paid, which verifies he had insurance coverage.”

A copy of the letter was sent to Roberts at his parents’ home at Westmoreland Place in the Central West End. Roberts’ father, Steven C. Roberts Sr., is a former St. Louis city councilman and real estate developer; in 2016, he was named Deputy Sheriff Chief of St. Louis Vernon Betts.

Harms, who did not respond to requests for comment Thursday, said in a Twitter thread earlier this week that Roberts was guilty and felt no remorse.

“He already did. He would do it again,” Harms said. “Please keep that in mind when you are in his presence, not that you would ever be at fault if he hurt you. No one could ever deserve that.

In an emailed statement, his attorney, Matt Ghio, accused Roberts of forcing his client to publicly respond to his accusations.

“Senator Roberts’ continued decision to speak to the press about Ms. Harm’s allegations and allow her Congressional campaign spokesperson to review the merits of my client’s claims is in violation of the agreement that the Senator Roberts and Ms. Harms concluded in 2019,” Ghio said. . “Senator Roberts broke the deal first, more than once. Senator Roberts got my client to respond publicly to defend against his and his campaign’s defamatory comments.

Harms claimed Roberts locked her in the corner of a downtown bar in 2015 with his chair and fondled her under a table.

The St. Charles County prosecutor, brought in due to potential conflicts with the St. Louis circuit attorney’s office, did not press charges in the case.

Roberts is running against incumbent U.S. Representative Cori Bush, D-St. Louis, during the August 2 primary.

Harms is one of two women to publicly accuse Roberts of sexual misconduct.

In 2016, a year after Harms accused Roberts of sexual assault, Cora Faith Walker accused him of rape. At the time, Walker and Roberts were running for state representative; in a letter to Missouri House management, Walker accused Roberts of raping her. He then sued Walker for defamation, she filed a counterclaim and they reached a confidential settlement in 2019. He disclosed the terms of the settlement on Monday because, he said, political enemies were using the allegation rape against him.

Walker, who left the Legislative Assembly to become director of policy for St. Louis County, died suddenly on March 11 at the age of 37. The cause of death has not been released. Roberts entered the congressional race on March 28.

Kimble, in his statement Thursday, blamed the new ballot on Bush and his supporters.

“Here is Cori Bush and her supporters again…recycling fake negative stories in an effort to distract from her indefensible voting record,” Kimble said. “This false allegation has been thoroughly investigated by the St. Louis Police Department and an independent prosecutor. It was dropped because it didn’t happen.

Bush campaign spokesman Karthik Ganapathy said “this is not a political conspiracy.”

“Fortunately, there are many people in St. Louis who believe women and believe survivors of sexual assault when they speak out,” Ganapathy said in a statement. “It is absurd and frankly disgusting to blame Rep. Cori Bush, a survivor herself, for people across the district raising valid concerns about Steve Roberts’ well-known and well-documented sexual assault story.”

Harms filed a lawsuit in 2017 after prosecutors failed to pursue charges against Roberts.

The lawsuit was dismissed by both sides in October 2019, according to online court records.

At a press conference Thursday, Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, was asked if he had spoken to Roberts about the allegations and the Intercept article.

“I don’t read the Intercept,” Rizzo said. “He’s a colleague I’ve worked very well with, and I don’t know anything about this stuff from years ago.

“He’s someone we’ve relied on here in the Senate to do a good job and personally I have no other reason to think otherwise,” Rizzo said.

Originally published at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 21.

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