Osborn on Lucido’s alleged harassment: ‘It just makes you feel powerless’

By: - January 28, 2020 5:46 pm

Sen. Peter Lucido at a Washington Township coffee hour, Jan. 17, 2020 | Ken Coleman

On Monday, Melissa Osborn described her experience of having inappropriate and unwanted attention from state Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Twp.) in an interview on WDET’s “Detroit Today” radio show.

Osborn, a regulatory and legislative affairs specialist for the Michigan Credit Union League and affiliates, is the second woman to allege Lucido sexually harassed her since Michigan Advance reporter Allison Donahue’s first-person story on Jan. 15. Donahue’s story detailed sexist comments Lucido made toward her; days later, state Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) came forward with her own sexual harassment complaint about Lucido.

Melissa Osborn | Michigan Credit Union League photo

Host Stephen Henderson noted his show made multiple attempts to reach Lucido and invite him onto the show. Lucido did not respond. 

Osborn said that her experience was almost identical to that of McMorrow. She alleged that Lucido first made comments about her red hair and then approached her from behind and placed his hand uncomfortably low on her back. Osborn said Lucido kept his hand there for “an extended period of time” as he complimented her dress and told her how much he liked how she looked in it.

“It was a very uncomfortable and demeaning situation where I didn’t know how to back out of it,” Osborn said.

Osborn said she felt motivated to speak up about it after she saw people accusing Donahue and McMorrow of having partisan intent, or either misquoting or misunderstanding Lucido’s words and actions.

“I just wanted to back them up to say, ‘This, this is real, and this happened,’” Osborn said.

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Osborn noted that although she’s experienced sexual harassment that she would consider “worse” than what Lucido did, she wants to make it easier for women to speak up about these things – even the more subtler instances.

“It just makes you feel powerless when it happens. Even if it’s a smaller incident … where it’s inappropriate and there is a power dynamic at play, that leaves you in a position where you’re not sure what you can do about it,” Osborn said.

“Even the small experiences do matter and somebody should say something. It’s just that a lot of us never really did or knew how to do something about it,” she added.

Osborn agreed with Henderson that this is a cultural issue in Lansing and many people ignore instances of sexual harassment.

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“In our minds, it’s like, ‘Well, we’re not really sure where to go with it and we want to be taken seriously in that workplace; we want to work in that arena; we don’t want to damage relationships,’” Osborn said. “And you have to make that calculation of, whether it’s worth it because we don’t really know what’s going to happen when you come forward.”

Even so, Osborn says she knew she had to speak up if she wanted anything to change.

“I felt like I had two bad choices, where I could either come forward and see what kind of repercussions may come, or stay silent, watch things stay the same and then having to live with that.”

Osborn added that she likely wouldn’t have felt the need to come forward if Lucido had apologized to Donahue and McMorrow, or at the very least acknowledged and owned up to his actions.

“Even just telling the truth about it would have been, at least, accountability for me,” she said.

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“Even if this was kind of like … an old school way of behaving, it’s still not okay. You know, [Lucido] should be aware of where he places his hands, or the kinds of things that he says to women, because … there is an appropriate way to compliment someone.”

Osborn hopes that by her speaking out, other women will feel empowered to do the same and there can be a better system in place for holding people accountable for their behavior.

Lucido has still not reached out or apologized to Donahue personally since her story was published on Jan. 15.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.