A Michigan state senator is under fire after he reportedly told a young female reporter that a group of high school boys touring the state Capitol could “have a lot of fun” with her if she stuck around.
Sen. Peter Lucido (R) reportedly made the suggestive comments to Michigan Advance reporter Allison Donahue on Tuesday after she approached him with a question following a Senate session.
Donahue, in an article detailing her experience published Wednesday, said Lucido said he’d speak with her after addressing about 30 visiting boys from De La Salle Collegiate, which is an all-boys Catholic school in Warren.
“You’ve heard of De La Salle, right?” Donahue said Lucido told her. When Donahue said she had not, he informed her that it is an all-boys school that he had attended in his youth.
“You should hang around! You could have a lot of fun with these boys, or they could have a lot of fun with you,” Donahue quoted Lucido as telling her. This comment prompted the students to burst out laughing, leaving Donahue, in her words, feeling “objectified and humiliated.”
“I’m 22 years old and one of the youngest current Capitol reporters,” Donahue said. “The senator’s insinuating comments about the ‘fun’ I might have with a group of teenage boys was belittling and it came from a place of power.”
The senator’s insinuating comments about the ‘fun’ I might have with a group of teenage boys was belittling and it came from a place of power. Michigan Advance reporter Allison Donahue
Donahue said she later confronted Lucido about his remark but he brushed it off by telling her it was nothing personal and that he made the comment because boys at that age are simply awkward and shy around women. He admitted that he had made similar comments in the past to a group of school-age girls.
Lucido, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, told the Detroit Free Press that he didn’t believe he owed Donahue an apology. Late Wednesday morning, however, he issued a public apology to Donahue for what he called a misunderstanding and for her offense.
De La Salle Collegiate’s principal, Nathan Maus, also distanced the school from Lucido’s comments in a statement to HuffPost on Wednesday.
“Senator Lucido’s comments do not represent De La Salle nor the values and conduct we instill in our young men,” Maus said. “We are very sorry the reporter was put in this position and we have met with the boys who were on the tour to discuss the improper nature of this situation.”
Fellow reporters and politicians have meanwhile rallied around Donahue on social media, offering their support.
Donahue encouraged other women to stand up for themselves and for all others to offer their support and encouragement.
“So many times I have acted like I didn’t hear it, or I thought it was funny or I didn’t understand. And every time I walk away from that feeling disappointed in myself and guilty. This time easily could have been like that,” she tweeted.
This has been updated with response from De La Salle Collegiate.