Rule change may close misconduct hearings in Missouri House

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A rule change in the Missouri House could allow hearings on alleged misconduct by lawmakers to be closed to the public.

Supporters say the rule change adopted this past week is intended to shield the identities of victims and witnesses in sexual assault and harassment complaints.

The change also could effectively shield the accused lawmakers from publicity, at least until a substantiated claim is detailed in a final report.

Some lawmakers have expressed concern about the potential for secret proceedings. But the change was overwhelmingly approved by the House.

Records provided to The Associated Press show the House received five sexual misconduct or harassment complaints in 2018. Two were referred to an outside attorney, which means they likely involved a lawmaker or the chief clerk.

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