Michigan City stock

An overall view of Michigan City looking north toward Lake Michigan. 

Jonathan Miano, The Times

MICHIGAN CITY — Ex-council president Chris Schwanke is catching criticism for some controversial statements he made recently about sexual harassment on Facebook, according to news reports.

A Facebook post about sexual harassment was first reported online Thursday by the Michigan City News-Dispatch. The posts have since been deleted.

“What’s up with all this sexual harassment against men??? I have been harassed as a man, a councilmen (sic), a business owner, and a person!!! Suck it up buttercup, move on!!! Unless you were physically attacked, you have no case. Ok, I’m done with it!!” Schwanke wrote, the News-Dispatch reported online Thursday. 

Schwanke later posted, "Can I go to bed now!!! I’ll probably be sexually harassed in my sleep and I’ll report it 5 years from now!!!”

The 49-year-old is now receiving backlash from the city's former mayor, Sheila Brillson. Brillson, a candidate in the LaPorte County commissioner's race, issued a news release Saturday rebuking the social media posts. 

"I read the Michigan City Councilman’s recent comments on sexual harassment to the News-Dispatch with shock, like many others surely did," she said. 

"One of the reasons I’m running for Commissioner today is to bring sensible leadership to LaPorte County government. That includes fostering a safe and respectful workplace, and making sure that potential victims of sexual harassment know they can speak up without fear of retribution or ridicule. As Commissioner, I will work to ensure that our county government is doing just that," Brillson said in a news release. 

Mayor Ron Meer told The News-Dispatch that Schwanke's comments do not reflect the views of the city. Brillson agreed with Meer.

"I thank Mayor Meer for speaking out against these troubling and offensive comments. As a former mayor, I join Mayor Meer in saying that these comments do not represent Michigan City or LaPorte County communities — nor should they," she said. 

In an email to The Times on Saturday, Schwanke said the News-Dispatch has "taken something completely out of context and ran wild with it. Sexual harassment is a major problem and I am completely against it, this problem affects all of us both female and male. It should never be tolerated."

He said he made the post because he "was tired" of major news outlets covering sexual harassment claims as top news stories. His comments come in the wake of countless women going to the outlets like The New York Times and Washington Post with sexual harassment allegations against celebrities and politicians.

"These are civil issues between two or more parties. Let’s focus on poverty, homelessness, hunger, wars, veterans assistance and things that are real news. If I offended anyone I am truly sorry. It was never meant to be that way," he said in an email. 

Days after his Facebook posts, Schwanke announced he was resigning from the Michigan City Council. He also said his stepping down had nothing to do with social media postings. 

He said in an email to The Times his resignation was in the works for several months.

Schwanke said he resigned "not because of this sexual harassment story by The News-Dispatch."

"I have been exploring new opportunities in another state for over two months and have decided to relocate for personal and business opportunities. This has been a long process and a tough decision to make. I would like to thank the residents of the 6th Ward that have allowed me to serve," he said in an email. 

Reporting like this is brought to you by a staff of experienced local journalists committed to telling the stories of your community. Support from subscribers is vital to continue our mission.

2
2
0
0
0

Public safety reporter

Lauren covers breaking news, crime and courts for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet covering government, public policy, and the region’s heroin epidemic. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.