State Sen. Dan Schoen should resign. That's the sound conclusion of his peers, Gov. Mark Dayton and the leaders of both Minnesota Senate caucuses, reached after reviewing accusations from multiple women of unwanted sexual advances by the St. Paul Park DFLer. It's our recommendation as well.
Schoen, a 42-year-old Cottage Grove police officer and a legislator since 2013, denies the charges. But they are too numerous and credible to be dismissed, coming from another DFL legislator, a former DFL legislative candidate, and unnamed others as first reported by MinnPost. As Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said in a statement, Schoen's actions "even with additional context" are "inappropriate and do not meet the standards for behavior of a state legislator."
We're also troubled by Thursday's late-breaking news that two women have accused another state lawmaker, Republican Rep. Tony Cornish, of sexual harassment. Cornish denied the accusations by a lobbyist that he harassed her repeatedly over several years, and he said suggestive text messages he sent to Rep. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley, were taken out of context.
Bakk's judgment on Schoen is telling. As minority leader in a chamber with a one-vote GOP majority, Bakk is understandably loath to put any DFL seat at risk in a special election. His willingness to do so in this case underscores the seriousness of the charges against Schoen.
It is also evidence of a shift in society's response to persistent and unwanted sexual advances — a shift that has accelerated in the weeks since allegations of movie producer Harvey Weinstein's misconduct rocked Hollywood. At the speed of social media, women in this country and around the globe have spoken out about disturbing and degrading experiences at the hands of men in positions of power who won't take no for an answer. That chorus demands that those who can hold sexual predators to account must do so, vigorously and unambiguously.
It's good to see that kind of response from both parties at the Legislature. It's also reassuring to know that before the Schoen story broke, Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt and DFL Minority Leader Melissa Hortman had agreed that all House members should undergo training next year in avoiding sexual harassment and discrimination. Senate leaders were said to be considering more training as well, MPR reported. This week's news makes that training a must.