KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri House candidate publicly accused of raping a soon-to-be lawmaker from another district is suing her for defamation, a move the woman criticized as an attempt to discourage victims from reporting crimes.
Steven Roberts Jr.'s lawsuit filed Thursday in St. Louis Circuit Court came two days after a special prosecutor declined to pursue charges in the case, citing a lack of "credible evidence" that the sexual relations with Cora Faith Walker was anything other than consensual.
Walker, who is married and from Ferguson, alleged Roberts attacked her in August when the two Democrats — both running unopposed in the Nov. 8 election — met at an apartment. She said they met to discuss how they could work together in the coming legislative session as the only two black attorneys in the largely white, Republican-controlled House.
Walker, 31, will serve in a district covering Ferguson and surrounding St. Louis County communities; Roberts, 28, will represent part of the city of St. Louis.
Roberts, who is single, has said he and Walker had consensual sex, and his lawsuit alleges those intimacies took place multiple times over a two-day span in Kansas City and St. Louis, a month before Walker reported to police that she had been raped.
"For the past month I have stood by watching as Mrs. Walker made false allegations against me over and over again. This suit explains the facts of what actually happened that night," Roberts said in a statement supplied Friday by his attorney, Jeremy Hollingshead. "The public deserves to know the truth and the only way to do that is to show the facts."
"This is not a case of 'he said, she said,'" Hollingshead said. "There is overwhelming evidence that Mrs. Walker 100 percent made up these allegations in order to advance her own political career."
Hollingshead and the lawsuit say Roberts has telephone texts, a video and other evidence backing up Roberts' version.
Walker alleged she had a couple of glasses of wine, then couldn't remember anything until she woke up in a bed. She told her husband the following day, but they waited several weeks before going to police, she said.
Walker later sent a letter Sept. 30 to Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Republican from Poplar Bluff, and other legislative leaders, asking that they block Roberts from serving until the criminal investigation is complete.
After the prosecutor's decision this week not to charge Roberts, Walker said: "I didn't come forward expecting justice. I know that few sexual assault cases are ever prosecuted."
On Friday, she told The Associated Press by telephone that "this is a suit that was filed to punish me for reporting a crime and to discourage other victims, his included, from coming forward." She said she has hired an attorney and is "confident in the outcome."
The AP typically doesn't identify the alleged victims of sexual assault, but Walker said she wanted to come forward to help other victims and encourage a cultural shift at the state Capitol, which has a reputation for sexual misconduct.
The lawsuit seeks at least $25,000 in damages on each of four alleged counts: defamation, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.