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Former page
alleges state senator groped him

Former page
alleges state senator groped him

A former legislative page from South Dakota told lawmakers on Tuesday that a state senator sexually groped him last year while the two shared a motel room at the start of the young man's weeklong stint in the legislature. A lawyer for the state senate identified the page as Austin Wiese, 19, whose family was close to Sen. Dan Sutton.

While it is Associated Press policy not to identify people who say they are the victims of sexual assault, Wiese's name was used in the senate committee's public hearing, which was carried live on the Internet, and has been circulated by other media in the state.

The senate has accused Sutton of sexual misconduct. He could be censured, disciplined, or expelled when the full senate votes on the matter. The vote is expected January 31.

South Dakota's attorney general and other law enforcement agents investigated the allegations and made no arrests.

Wiese told the committee Tuesday that he and Sutton shared a motel room for two nights last February in Fort Pierre. On the first night, he said, he did not realize ahead of time that the room had only one king-size bed and alleged that he was awakened repeatedly by Sutton touching him on his side, back, and hip.

Wiese said he kept repositioning himself and turning over. ''I was stunned and didn't know what to do,'' he said.

On the second night, Wiese said, Sutton touched his genitals. Wiese said he hopped out of bed, claiming he had missed a cell phone call, and left the room. He stayed elsewhere the next night.

Sutton's lawyer, Mike Butler, said the story is complex and includes a failed business deal that involved Sutton and Wiese's father. ''Dan Sutton faces far more here today than merely a judgment,'' Butler said. ''He faces the loss of his good office, the loss of what is left of his reputation.''

Wiese did not stay with Sutton again and told senate attorney Jim McMahon he did not say anything to Sutton about what had happened. Wiese said Sutton never asked why Wiese decided to stay elsewhere or why he had tried to avoid Sutton in the capitol. (AP)

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