Wasilla Republican Sen. David Wilson won’t be charged with criminal misdemeanor harassment for slapping Anchorage Daily News reporter Nat Herz in a capitol stairwell earlier this year, according to a report by KTVA this morning.
The state Office of Special Prosecutions is declining to bring charges against Wilson because, as Assistant Attorney General Andrew Peterson said in a letter to the Juneau police, “it is unlikely the state will be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Senator Wilson acted with the specific intent to harass or annoy Mr. Herz when he slapped Mr. Herz on May 2, 2017.” Peterson explained in the letter that second-degree harassment requires the state prove intent. It’s unclear why law enforcement was pursuing harassment charges.
Peterson goes onto explain that Wilson isn’t completely cleared of wrongdoing based on his analysis.
“This in no way implies that Senator Wilson’s conduct is not of concern, but rather that the resources necessary for this prosecution is disproportionate to the conduct, especially since the Legislature has the authority to address this conduct through other means,” he wrote.
The Senate has seemingly been reluctant to take any disciplinary action against Wilson, who’s the lone remaining Mat-Su legislator to be a part of the Senate Majority, after the initial reports he slapped a reporter or after recently publicized allegations over an inappropriate interaction with a female legislative aide in the halls of the capitol.
At a news conference last week addressing the allegations of harassment, Wilson was asked about his slap of Herz to which he responded: “All I can say at this time is I did not assault him.”
There are other statutes with a lesser burden on the mental state that would apply – I think that this is a bad decision – and a politically motivated one – by the Office of Special Prosecutions. And on an aside, there are LOTS of cases where the state charges an offense without this level of scrutiny taken at the charging level – that is what juries are for. I call bullshit.