- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A political operative accused of sexually harassing legislative interns will be allowed back into the Capitol as long as he notifies police at least 24 hours before his visit, according to a letter from the Legislature’s administrators.

The Legislature decided to impose strict rules for David Poger’s visits to the Capital rather than seeking to extend a restraining order against him, House Counsel David Welch said Monday.

The Legislature secured a temporary restraining order against Poger in February after interns complained he made unwelcome advances toward them. But the order expired March 14. A judge officially dismissed the case Monday after the Legislature agreed to drop it.

Authorities couldn’t locate Poger to serve him with the protective order, Welch said, and complicating matters was Poger’s constitutional right to petition the government.

Under the rules the Legislature imposed, Poger will restricted from interacting with interns. He will have to name everyone he plans to meet while on the property and check in with Capitol police when he arrives and departs, according to terms outlined in a letter signed by Adam Crumbliss, the chief clerk of the House, and Marga Hoelscher, the Senate administrator.

These restrictions are in effect until Dec. 31, according to the letter.

In court documents filed in February, one intern said Poger tried to start conversations with her, sit next to her in the Capitol and ask her out to lunch - and even after she repeatedly rebuked him, he “still would wink at me any time he saw me.”

Another intern said he pushed on the “intern pin” attached to her lapel and asked, “Is this harassment?”

“Yes, kind of,” she responded, according to court records.

Poger’s attorney, Gaylin Rich Carver, said he has been treated more harshly than former lawmakers who resigned last year over allegations of inappropriate behavior with interns.

The last legislative session ended with the resignation of then-House Speaker John Diehl, a Republican who acknowledged exchanging sexually suggestive text messages with an intern. Democratic Sen. Paul LeVota stepped down a few months later amid allegations that he sexually harassed interns, which he denied.

Carver pointed out that those lawmakers weren’t issued restraining orders. “I don’t even know if there’s any precedent for this,” she said.

Welch said although Diehl’s behavior was inappropriate, the situation was different because nobody accused him of “unwelcome” advances.

Carver said the terms outlined in the administrators’ letter are unenforceable because they cite only the Office of Administration’s facilities management rules.

Welch said if Poger violates the terms, administrators can seek to have him arrested for trespassing.

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