The University of Texas released its findings into the most recent political dick pic scandal, and even relative to that category, this one is weird.
In September, reports surfaced revealing that State Sen. Charles Schwertner was being investigated by the University of Texas. The specifics weren’t great: Schwertner was accused of sending a series of lewd LinkedIn messages and a snapshot of his genitals to an unnamed graduate student after meeting her at an on-campus event over the summer. Through his attorneys, Schwertner’s consistently denied the claims. On Tuesday, the investigator hired by the university revealed that while the harassment had occurred through Schwertner’s accounts, for once, the excuse of being hacked was true.
The University of Texas hired Johnny Sutton of the Ashcroft law firm to complete the Title IX investigation, whose findings were released Tuesday afternoon. Sutton found that there was “insufficient” evidence to find Schwernter guilty of violating “the University’s policies against sexual harassment or sexual misconduct.” Investigators determined that a third party was responsible for accessing Schwertner’s LinkedIn and private text message app accounts and sending the harassing messages. UT’s agreement of the investigation’s assessment means Schwertner will no longer face a potential ban from the Austin campus.
Along with the decision, the school released a small packet of files related to the investigation, including the communications under review, a snapshot of a bizarre situation.
According to copies of LinkedIn messages provided to Splinter through a public records request, the online correspondence between the graduate student and Schwernter began at the beginning of May 2018. According to screenshots included in the report, the conversation was initiated by Schwernte; the student responded by asking for career advice. Schwernter responds that he’d be “happy to share” but that his professional story “is a bit more I can type [sic].”
According to the investigation team’s notes, Schwertner and the student did not communicate through LinkedIn in June. But in July, they ran into each other at a professional event held on campus. The woman recalled that Schwertner remembered her name. This time, Schwertner gave her his business card. According to the report, the card had his personal cell phone number “hand-written at the bottom.”
Come the end of August, Schwertner’s chief of staff left a voicemail on the grad student’s phone, telling her Schwertner had passed her name along to talk about potentially developing professional connections. Those talks “fell through,” according to the report’s authors.
Then, the following day, the student received more messages from Schwertner’s LinkedIn account, apparently from an imposter, asking her to pass along her personal cell phone number. That’s when the student started receiving explicit text messages.
The censored image in the photo above is reported to have been a photo of male genitals taken while the purportedly unknown photographer was in a shower. The student texted back, “Please stop the inappropriate texts. This is unprofessional.” She then proceeded to report the harassment, prompting the investigation.
According to the report, the grad student was asked by investigators what she hoped to come of the investigation; she responded that she didn’t feel it was fair “for someone who represents healthcare to do something like this,” and also that she was “afraid he will do this to another woman.”
Throughout the course of the investigation, Schwertner did not meet with Sutton, the lawyer hired by UT; he also refused to “answer five questions that were designed to bring clarity to the investigation,” per the report’s executive summary. Schwertner contended through his attorneys that he did not send any of the lewd messages.
Schwertner’s attorneys told investigators that a third, unidentified person who had access to his LinkedIn login information as well as his login information for an app called Hushed—which allows the user to text another person’s cell phone without revealing that the app is being used or where the original text was sent from—was responsible for sending the text messages. The third party was not revealed by Schwertner’s attorneys, nor were they identified by their own legal representation, who provided a signed “affidavit attesting to the truth of his or her statements.”
Ultimately, Sutton and the University of Texas found that the evidence was “insufficient” to support the grad student’s belief that Schwertner was responsible. If you know anything further about this odd case or have any related documentation, email us.