Louisiana secretary of state resigns amid sexual harassment allegations 
© Louisiana Secretary of State

Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler (R) will resign next week amid allegations he sexually harassed his secretary for years, The Advocate reported Tuesday.

"I leave the office with a heavy heart knowing I have disappointed the people in my life who care for me the most," Schedler said in his resignation letter. "But I have also experienced from them the miraculous power of forgiveness and grace during the twilight of my career, and for that I am grateful."

The resignation, effective May 8, came after the newspaper published a series of sexually suggestive emails that Schedler purportedly sent to his former secretary, Dawn Ross.

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Schedler would make advances on Ross during their email exchanges and invite her on cross-country trips, Ross said. She also said he propositioned her with wine and hand-written Christmas and birthday cards left on her chair; The Advocates published scans of those cards.

The Advocate reported that Schedler also reportedly purchased a residence near Ross in Baton Rouge and began keeping close tabs on her and her visitors. 

"I feel like he's already taken 10 years of my life, where I've been a prisoner in a cave at work and at home," Ross said. "I just really want it to be over. I want to get him out of my life totally."

The harassment allegations were first revealed in a February lawsuit. Ross has since come forward, describing Schedler as a “nightmare” and a “creep” who would not leave her alone.

The suit alleges that Schedler began retaliating against her for shutting down his romantic advances.

“Some days I felt like we were friends,” Ross said. “Other days he would yell at me. Other days he would ask me to dinner, lunch, whatever, show up with wine and stuff on my doorstep."

She eventually left his office after a final “blow-up” where Schedler allegedly began screaming at her when she requested a few days off.

"He got right up in my face and said, 'Get out of this office and don't ever come back here again,' " Ross said. 

Schedler publicly claimed that the two had a "consensual sexual relationship,” something Ross denied, The Advocate reported.

Both of the state’s Republican senators, Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyDyslexia is more common than society realizes. Here’s what we can do to help children struggling in the shadows. Congress must protect eye care patients from frightful prescriptions Trump signs bills banning drug pricing 'gag clauses' MORE (R) and John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R), called on Schedler to resign.

“Increasingly it appears the allegations against Secretary Schedler are true," Cassidy said in a statement to The Advocate Monday evening. "He should resign. No one should use their position to coerce another into a relationship.”

First Assistant Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin will take over Schedler's duties until a special election can be held this fall.