Thursday, October 27, 2016

Steven Roberts Jr. Sues Cora Faith Walker, Alleging Defamation and Malicious Prosecution

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 6:26 PM

click to enlarge Steven Roberts Jr.
  • Steven Roberts Jr.
Last month, an incoming member of the Missouri House of Representatives, Cora Faith Walker, publicly accused fellow incoming member Steven Roberts Jr. of sexual assault, saying she'd reported him to the police and asking the Speaker of the House not to seat him.

But on Tuesday, prosecutors said there would be no charges, saying there wasn't enough "credible evidence" that the two colleagues' interactions were anything but consensual. And now Roberts has filed a bombshell lawsuit against his fellow Democrat — accusing her of making up the case against him and saying that they had multiple consensual encounters.

Walker has told the media that the two had no prior romantic relationship. But in his lawsuit, Roberts alleges that they actually fooled around in his hotel room the very night before — and that he snapped a nude photo of her to prove it. He also says their encounters on the night in question weren't just consensual, but that they planned to hook up by purchasing wine, pizza and condoms together.

He's now suing for defamation, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Scott Rosenblum, the Clayton criminal defense attorney who represented Roberts in the police investigation, says the photo, as well as a receipt showing the grocery store purchases, were the "conclusive evidence" he referenced in arguing his client's innocence. He said the photo taken by Roberts in his hotel room the morning before the alleged assault clearly shows Walker. "There is no question," he tells the RFT.

Walker's allegations, which shook St. Louis' gossipy political scene and had many women blasting Roberts on social media, began when she reported in late September that she had been assaulted on August 26. In a letter to the Speaker of the House (and apparently in statements to police), she said she went to Roberts' apartment around 9 p.m. and, after two glasses of wine, woke up the next morning with no idea of what had happened. Her story was the subject of a sympathetic, and widely circulated, column by the Post-Dispatch's Tony Messenger.

In his lawsuit, filed by Jeremy D. Hollingshead of Hollingshead, Paulus, Eccher, and Fry, Roberts tells a much different story — with receipts and text messages attached as exhibits.

Roberts said the two had a sexual relationship eight years ago, and rekindled it after each won their respective primaries this August.

After a meeting of the Democratic Summer Caucus in Kansas City on August 25, his suit alleges, the two met up his room, undressed, cuddled and kissed. He says she told him her husband would not care because they have a "progressive marriage," but that "her boyfriend might," according to the suit. The suit also alleges that Walker posed for a nude photo in front of Roberts' bed.

On the following day, he alleges, they exchanged friendly text messages and separately returned to St. Louis before meeting up around 10 p.m. He had suggested Bar Napoli, but she didn't want to be out in public, so they went to his apartment.

But first they went to Straub's and Whole Foods to get food. Both were closed, so they arrived at Schnuck's and bought two bottles of Chardonnay, pizza, a toothbrush, toothpaste and condoms. Roberts says in the suit he has surveillance footage from Straub's showing the two together. His suit also includes as an exhibit a receipt from Schnuck's showing the purchases.

Roberts says they had three consensual sexual encounters that night — and woke up to her phone ringing hours later. She said "Oh fuck, oh fuck" and indicated that she was supposed to have gone home the night before, according to the lawsuit. She then left.

They had only minimal contact after that, according to the suit. But two weeks later, he learned that "there were rumors" that Walker was alleging rape. And on September 30, he learned that she'd filed a police report after he received a call from the TV news reporter.

Now he's firing back.

In a press release, Roberts' attorneys said he would not be available for comment this week. They provided this written statement from Roberts: "What is most egregious is that Mrs. Walker has falsely positioned herself as an advocate for sexual assault victims. Victims do not lie. By making these false allegations, Mrs. Walker has undermined the true victims of sexual assault who deserve to be heard and believed."

Roberts' attorney, Jeremy Hollingshead, said in a statement:
When people like Mrs. Walker falsely accuse upstanding people like Mr. Roberts of rape, it has a chilling effect on the true victims of sexual assault. In order to protect the integrity of, not only the justice system, but the rights of sexual assault victims everywhere, such false allegations must be vigorously pursued and ended.

In order to protect the rights of actual victims of sexual assault everywhere, we must send the message that false allegations of rape are intolerable and make it that much harder for true victims to come forward, tell their stories, and seek justice.

As a newly elected representative for the citizens of St. Louis, Mrs. Walker's false allegations of rape are, to say the least, disturbing. In an attempt to advance her own political career, Mrs. Walker has severely damaged the rights of the many actual victims of sexual assault. As a representative of the people, Mrs. Walker should know better.
Rosenblum, the attorney who represented Roberts in the criminal investigation, says that the documentation Roberts was able to provide left prosecutors with no hope of a successful prosecution.

"You think I could have won that case?" he asks rhetorically. "If I would have lost that case, I should have my law license taken away from me."

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com


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