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Cora Faith Walker

Tim Walker and Cora Faith Walker. Post-Dispatch photo by Tony Messenger.

JEFFERSON CITY • Members of Missouri's legislative black caucus on Thursday elected state Rep. Steven Roberts, D-St. Louis, to chair the group — but Roberts' ascension drew criticism from one of his colleagues who two years ago accused Roberts of raping her.

Rep. Cora Faith Walker, D-Ferguson, announced Thursday on Facebook that she was leaving the caucus.

"I have resigned from the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus," Walker wrote. "I stand in my truth and am incredibly grateful to my colleagues who stand with survivors."

Walker told the Post-Dispatch in September 2016 that she went to Roberts’ apartment in St. Louis on the night of Aug. 26, 2016, discussed political matters, passed out, then woke up in a bed in the apartment the next morning.

About a month after the alleged rape, and several days before she wrote a letter to then-House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, Walker reported the alleged incident to police.

A special prosecutor appointed to the case, St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar, declined to press charges, saying there was not enough evidence to do so.

Walker and Roberts have since filed dueling civil lawsuits against each other. Roberts has accused Walker of defamation and Walker has accused Roberts of of battery and infliction of emotional distress.

Walker did not return phone calls seeking comment. Roberts, who beat state Rep. Bruce Franks, D-St. Louis, for the post, said he had no comment on Walker's resignation. 

He said he would focus on working with the Republican majority on criminal justice reform, cash-bail reform, and passing legislation to provide incentives to businesses that hire ex-felons.

"What I'm really interested in is criminal justice reform," Roberts said. "I think that is something Republicans have an appetite for."

Roberts said there are 19 state representatives in the caucus, and three state senators. He said in a news release the caucus is the largest since the group's inception.

In a news release, Roberts said state Rep.-elect Ashley Bland-Manlove, D-Kansas City, would be the vice chairwoman; that Rep. Richard Brown, D-Kansas City, would be treasurer; and Rep.-elect LaKeSha Bosley, D-St. Louis, would be secretary.

Jack Suntrup covers state government and politics for the Post-Dispatch.