Conservative senator escapes harassment charge over Hooters joke

Colorado State University (CSU) Student Senator Juan Caro was found “not responsible” for a sexual harassment violation, ending a six-month investigation into whether a joke he made about Hooters merited the charge.

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Campus Reform initially reported that Caro had been subjected to months of harassment from his political rivals, who used the sexual harassment allegation against him in at least two political contests—one of which he lost.

Despite several apparent inconsistencies in the Title IX office’s report of the case, Director Joshua Alvarez elected to pass the case along to a separate student conduct office after determining that there was “sufficient information” to “suggest sexual harassment may have occurred.”

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Notably, Caro has been widely criticized by his senatorial peers, who have attempted to impeach him on two separate occasions for voting conservatively. In fact, both impeachment efforts came back-to-back in March, right around the time many witnesses to the alleged incident were interviewed by the Title IX office.

Now, however, Colorado State University’s Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services Office has dropped the charges after finding Caro not guilty of harassment.

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“While you have admitted to making a statement that caused discomfort for others, I do not believe this incident meets the threshold to find you responsible for Harassment under the student conduct code,” Melissa Emerson, director of the student conduct office, wrote in an email to Caro.

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Caro had reportedly made a reference to Hooters in response to one of his fellow senators who had commented on the attractiveness of a newly-recruited female senator.

“Yeah, I could make this place look like a Hooters if you want,” Caro said, referencing his efforts as the senate recruitment officer and jokingly suggesting that he could recruit more attractive women.

The accusation was used against him from that point on to damage his reputation and stymie his chances of taking over as Speaker of the Senate—a strategy that proved successful.

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Ultimately, though, the “incident reports and other supporting documents” were found to be insufficient evidence of harassment.

Caro, briefly available for comment Wednesday afternoon, called it a victory for free speech at CSU.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski