At a public hearing held on Feb. 20 to determine whether to fund a science center in downtown Hartford, the last thing state lawmakers expected was controversy.

But controversy was exactly what they got when one of their ranking members turned a teenager’s testimony into a sexual innuendo. The teen in question, a 17-year-old girl whose anonymity is being kept for her privacy, testified to the appropriations committee that working at the Connecticut Science Center had boosted her confidence and piqued her interest in turtles and snakes.

When the committee was asked if they had any questions, Rep. Ernest Hewett, a deputy speaker of the house, raised his hand.

“If you’re bashful, I’ve got a snake sittin’ under my desk here,” he told the girl (full audio here).

Hewett has since been stripped of his leadership title, costing him over $6,000 in salary. Although Hewett offered a public apology, he said he meant nothing by the remark except to point out that the girl had gotten over her shyness and fear of snakes.