Lucas admits to lapse in judgment; removes Facebook posts

A local legislator facing criticism for his Facebook postings apologized and removed them after admitting to a lapse of judgment.

“It certainly was not my intent to make light of domestic violence or violence toward women,” state Rep. Jim Lucas of Seymour said in a news release. “These issues are something that we must continue to address, and I genuinely regret that my posts were a distraction from these important issues.

“To assuage any further concerns and to put this matter behind us so that we can focus on more important issues, it is my decision to remove these posts from my Facebook site,” he added. “I did not intend to have any hidden meaning in it. I found humor in it, and I shared it, and that’s as simple as you can get, you know. There are people out there who want to blow this into me hating women or me not respecting women’s rights, and nothing could be further from the truth.”

Lucas’ latest post  drew criticism from many visitors to his Facebook page, including Laura Berry, executive director with the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Berry asked for people opposed to Lucas to call House Speaker Brian Bosma to strip Lucas of his assistant majority whip title or call Lucas.

Lucas, who represents House District 69, which includes portions of Bartholomew, Jennings, Jackson and Jefferson counties in southeast Indiana, at first said on Facebook he did not plan on taking the post down but changed his mind Tuesday afternoon.

“For those that know me, you know that I genuinely care about all people and would never condone such actions and would be the first person to step in to help a person in need,” Lucas said.

“My Facebook page has always been open and a place where some very interesting and spirited discussions have occurred,” he said. “Because of that open interaction, many people, myself included, have gained a greater and more positive understanding of those that we disagree with. Please know that your overwhelming support and understanding through this has been greatly appreciated.

“I own this incident and accept full responsibility for it,” he said. “I only ask that everyone think about the amount of vitriol that this lapse of judgment on my part has fostered and commit, as I am, to being a more positive person moving forward.”

While Lucas’ latest post drew support from many, there were plenty who didn’t like it, especially considering Lucas’ position.

“Well, even if his intent was to be funny, and even if he wasn’t intentionally trying to hurt people’s feelings, it doesn’t make the things posted any less offensive,” Autumn Fox of Seymour told The Tribune. “Part of being in a position of power such as his means being held to a higher standard. It’s part of his job to be considerate to all people.”

Danni Cowles of Seymour agreed.

“I think when you take on a role like that, you need to be professional and not funny,” she said.

Jason Tracy of Columbus said the post send the wrong message.

“Jim Lucas is not a comedian. He is a man who makes the laws in this state,” he said. “When he thinks that it is a ‘giggle’ when a woman being pepper sprayed when she is alone, not a threat, and three officers are around her that could have easily handcuffed her, that sends a message that he thinks police brutality is funny.”

Tracy said he had a question for Lucas.

“Do we expect him to hold police accountable when they do things like this or laugh about it?” Tracy said.

Sherry Dart of Seymour said Lucas’ action is a window into what he thinks of women.

“Disappointed that it came from someone who is supposed to represent us,” she said.

Others, including Brandon Goecker, supported Lucas.

“This is the first election cycle that social media has played a major role in the political scene,” Goecker said. “We’ve seen mistakes from both political parties due to the influence of social media.

“Those posts were insensitive to many people, but I believe he meant nothing by them,” Goecker added. “We all make mistakes, people forgive us and we move on.”

Lucas said he was human and wears his emotions on his sleeve.

“I am not a polished politician, but just an average person that got involved in politics to make a positive difference in the lives of everyone,” he said.