Texas GOP Lawmaker Resigns After Probe Found Inappropriate Relationship With Teen Staffer

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Texas state Rep. Bryan Slaton, a far-right Republican who equated drag performers with “groomers” who sexualize children, resigned from office Monday after a state-led investigation found he engaged in a sexual relationship with his 19-year-old intern, plied her with alcohol and demanded her silence.

Slaton, who is 45 and married, turned in his resignation, effective immediately, one day before the Texas House was set to vote on expelling him and two days after the House General Investigative Committee released an explosive 16-page report on Slaton’s behavior ― neither of which he mentioned in his letter of resignation to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

“It has been an honor to represent my friends, neighbors and the great people and communities of House District 2,” Slaton, a former pastor, wrote, adding that they “voted overwhelmingly to send me to the Capitol.”

According to the five-person committee’s report, Slaton invited his 19-year-old intern over to his home on March 31, and she arrived with two other young women working as legislative aides at the Capitol, along with one of their boyfriends. While there, the intern said, Slaton “kept refilling” her drink with rum to the point that she was “really dizzy” and had “split vision.”

She declined to answer investigators’ questions about any sexual activity with Slaton, but according to the other women present that night, she later told them she’d “lost her virginity” to Slaton after the rest of the group left and described the encounter in great detail, saying she was “in love” with him.

Days later, according to the probe’s findings, Slaton hinted to the intern that it would be a problem if their relationship got out. He then said that “everything would be fine” but that “everyone involved just has to stay quiet.”

The intern, along with the 19- and 20-year-old aides who’d joined her at his apartment, all filed complaints against Slaton over the following three weeks, setting off the investigation. At the time, Slaton’s attorney said that the claims against him were “outrageous” and “false,” but he has otherwise stayed quiet about the allegations.

Rep. Bryan Slaton looks on in the House Chamber at the Capitol, in Austin, Texas, on Jan. 18, 2023.
Rep. Bryan Slaton looks on in the House Chamber at the Capitol, in Austin, Texas, on Jan. 18, 2023.

Rep. Bryan Slaton looks on in the House Chamber at the Capitol, in Austin, Texas, on Jan. 18, 2023.

The investigators noted that while conducting their probe, Slaton did not deny having sex with his intern. One of Slaton’s colleagues in the House also told investigators that when asked about rumors of his misconduct, Slaton confessed to his colleague about the sexual encounter.

Ultimately, the report determined that Slaton’s intern “could not effectively consent to intercourse and could not indicate whether it was welcome or unwelcome.” Furthermore, they wrote, Slaton “took advantage of his position to engage in sexual conduct after completing training in which he had been advised that conduct of this type was harassment because of the power imbalance.”

He resigned Monday after his several key allies withdrew their support for him, including the Texas Right to Life, a anti-abortion group that backed his political campaigns, and party officials from the counties he represented.

Slaton has been one of the loudest voices in the GOP’s hysteria campaign over drag artists and transgender people. He said he planned to introduce legislation this year banning minors from drag shows.

“We have to stop sick adults from sexualizing kids,” he has repeatedly tweeted. “Yes to protecting innocence. Yes letting kids be kids.”

“No one has the right to victimize a child by subjecting them to grooming,” he wrote in January regarding drag performances with children in attendance.

While the concept of grooming is often discussed in reference to adults manipulating people under 18, it’s also applicable to other relationships with large power imbalances, such as the one Slaton’s accused of having with his teenage intern.

Had the state House voted to expel Slaton on Tuesday, it would have been the first time in nearly 100 years that a member of the chamber was forcibly removed from office.