MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The reporter who first broke the sexual harassment story rocking the State Capitol is speaking out.
We sat down with the MinnPost journalist who discovered the difficult path for people wanting to raise the red flag on lawmakers’ behavior.
It’s a movement barely a month old. First, in the headlines for a movie producer’s past. Then, a hashtag on social media. That soon found its way to the MinnPost newsroom.
Briana Bierschbach has covered seven legislative sessions in St. Paul.
“I wasn’t surprised to see that people were wanting to talk about this now,” Bierschbach said.
“These are serious stories that you’re hearing from around the country and it didn’t seem at all out of the realm of possibility that they were happening at our State Capitol,” she added.
A house candidate and a new state rep reached out to recount their interactions with state senator, paramedic and police officer Dan Schoen. Allegations of lewd comments, grabbing and suggestive text messages. Both women insisting their names to be used in Bierschbach’s story.
“I think that made it really powerful,” Biershbach said.
She was also the first to point to a complex discipline policy covering sitting legislative members that didn’t mention sexual harassment at all. Bierschbach didn’t expect such swift fallout from her story. A cascade of resignation calls and more women coming forward. A story now with no clear end in sight.
“As people become more comfortable and see this process play out more stories will come out,” she said.
Bierschbach also told WCCO that she is no stranger to some of this behavior at the capitol. She’s often touched on the elbow or back when men talk to her. Some sitting legislators have referred to her as red, rather than using her name, since she has red hair.