A Republican woman told several prominent Indiana Republicans that secretary of state candidate Diego Morales sexually assaulted her 15 years ago, she has told IndyStar, but none withdrew their support of his candidacy.
The woman, who has worked for multiple Republican campaigns and whose family members have been prolific fundraisers for the GOP over the last two decades, said she feels betrayed by the party. She said she didn't want to take her story public, but she and her family have turned to at least six powerful Indiana Republicans at the local and state level.
The only thing that seems to matter to most of them, she said, is keeping the secretary of state seat in Republican hands.
"I have been loyal to my party my entire life," she said. "So this is for me, it feels like everyone that I supported and believed and thought I could trust decided they would all turn their back on me, and not just me, but other women who have been through something similar."
Morales denies allegations
Morales faces Democrat Destiny Wells and Libertarian Jeff Maurer on Nov. 8. Morales has repeatedly and strenuously denied allegations by two women that he sexually assaulted them, as first reported by political writer Abdul Hakim-Shabazz.
"As a husband and father, I understand sexual harassment is deplorable and can leave devastating scars," he told IndyStar in a statement. "The claims being made against me are false and I unequivocally deny all of them."
Both incidents were well before the #MeToo movement, when more women began coming forward with sexual assault claims.
Secretary of State debate: Diego Morales is a no-show and other takeaways
The Republican woman said she talked to Attorney General Todd Rokita on the phone on Aug. 18 and told him Morales had sexually assaulted her and another woman who used to work in the Secretary of State's Office. She showed IndyStar phone records of the 9-minute call. A month later, Rokita appeared at a fundraiser in Brownsburg on Morales' behalf. Since the phone call, Rokita has contributed $750 to Morales and co-authored an op-ed defending him as someone with moral and fiscal integrity.
Rokita did not return IndyStar messages left with his campaign and office staffs.
The woman also said a family member attempted to reach former Vice President Mike Pence a day before a fundraiser Pence headlined for Morales on Oct. 12. Pence did not return a message from IndyStar left with his spokesman. It's not known whether Pence was made aware of the allegations, since the family member spoke to Pence's assistant and not Pence directly.
As previously reported by IndyStar, the woman also told Indiana Republican Party Chair Kyle Hupfer in August that she was assaulted by Morales. The party, led by Hupfer, still covered the cost of an $81,000 TV ad buy featuring Morales and the other two state office candidates, in addition to $75,000 worth of in-kind contributions to Morales.
The ad labels Morales as part of "the team Indiana can trust."
IndyStar typically does not name alleged victims of sexual assault without their consent. The woman interviewed by the newspaper said she fears retribution to her family.
Morales' behavior toward her, she said, is part of a broader cultural problem in the political realm, not just among Republicans, where she thinks sexual harassment and assault are allowed to continue. She has since volunteered for Wells' campaign, but said that's the only Democrat for whom she plans to vote.
'Just don't help him'
The woman said she didn't make a specific request of the elected officials. By the time she began sharing her story with prominent Republicans, Morales already had received the party nomination over current GOP Secretary of State Holli Sullivan at the June 18 state Republican convention.
"I wasn't saying you need to come out against him publicly," the woman told IndyStar. "I'm just saying, just don't help him. Don't actively campaign for him. Don't go around telling everyone what a great guy he is, because he's not."
The woman said she was one of two who told Hakim-Shabazz they had been sexually assaulted by Morales. IndyStar talked to both women, who provided details that matched those reported in Shabazz's Cheat Sheet, and interviewed individuals the women spoke to about Morales at the time of the interactions.
Morales has denied the allegations of both women and said he would rather they identify themselves so he can "litigate this in a court of law than in the court of public opinion."
"The women will not reveal their identity and have no proof to substantiate their defaming comments," he said in a statement to IndyStar on Monday. "The falsities stem from 15 years ago and were not brought forward until days before the election. The timing is clearly politically motivated, especially because the anonymous sources mention being volunteers and supporters of my Democratic opponent."
Hupfer responded to IndyStar questions last month, confirming he had been told about the allegations, but said it wasn't his story to tell.
"Allegations like these should be fully and fairly vetted, and the accuser, accused, and voters deserve a process that allows for such," Hupfer said in a statement last month. "A political party is not an investigatory or judicial body, as parties lack the means and mechanisms to review these types of allegations, particularly in situations that allegedly took place over a decade ago. The age and timing of these allegations leave no opportunity for due process, and that is unfair to all involved."
The allegations, as told to IndyStar
The first woman, the one who said she told multiple powerful Republicans about the assault, said the incident happened shortly after she met Morales while working on a congressional campaign in 2006, when she was 20 years old. Morales would have been in his late 20s. She said Morales told her he had a gift from the congressional candidate to give her, so the pair met up at Starbucks. Morales drove her to his apartment after he told her he had forgotten to bring the gift, she said.
Once there, Morales tried to forcefully kiss her multiple times, according to her account. It first happened on the couch, where she attempted to shut down his advances by reminding him she had a boyfriend. After she managed to get up, Morales pinned her against a wall, she said, grabbing her wrists and putting them behind her back. He rubbed his pelvic area against her as he kept attempting to kiss her face and upper body.
"I kept trying to get away and I kept trying to say, 'Get off of me,'" she told IndyStar.
She was able to get loose when he let go with one hand to reach for her shirt, she said.
Immediately after, he repeatedly sought assurance that they would still be friends, she said, and later he called her from different numbers periodically.
IndyStar reached two Republican men who said the woman told them between 2007-10, long before Morales ran for office, about an incident with Morales. One said he recalled her saying Morales had attempted to force himself on her, and the other that Morales had made advances, but neither could recall her going into detail at the time.
IndyStar is not naming the two Republicans due to fear of reprisal and to avoid exposing the woman making the allegations.
The second woman told IndyStar that Morales invited her out to dinner after she met him shortly after she began working in the Secretary of State's Office in 2009, during Rokita's tenure, when she was 22 years old. She thought it was a chance to get to know a colleague in her new workplace, but during dinner Morales started asking her if she had ever had "campaign sex" before, making her uncomfortable, she said.
She asked him to take her home, and once there he said he needed to use her restroom. She tried rejecting his request, but Morales was insistent she was being "strange," so she let him in, she said. Afterward, he went in for a hug and started kissing her face as he held her arms down, she said.
She told him to get off multiple times, but he only stopped after she managed to physically force him off her. Afterward, he criticized her for overreacting, she said.
In the weeks that followed, he made work challenging and uncomfortable for her, sometimes refusing to send her information she needed unless she approached him in person, she said.
"He would be like, 'You have to promise I have a chance (with you),'" she said.
IndyStar reached out to a former colleague who confirmed the woman said she felt "creeped out" and uncomfortable because Morales had made advances, but the colleague couldn't recall specific details. IndyStar is not naming the colleague due to the person's fear that it could impact them professionally.
Neither woman reported the incidents to authorities.
"I was afraid that if I wasn't nice to Diego or made too big of a stink about it that I would get in trouble because as far as I could tell he had more credibility than I did," the second woman said.
Call IndyStar Statehouse and political watchdog reporter Kaitlin Lange at 317-432-9270 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Diego Morales assault allegations: Woman feels betrayed by GOP