While his Senate colleague Al Franken (D-Minnesota) has apologized profusely and offered himself to the will of the Ethics Committee, Michigan’s Democratic Rep. John Conyers has stood more defiantly against his reportedly settling a prior sexual harassment allegation. The 88-year-old politician initially admitted to making the payments but otherwise denied the accusations that prompted them in the first place. What’s more, he refused to resign from his post — though he did succumb to pressure and step down from his post as a ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Conyers’ defiant attitude might not last, however, as a second former staffer has accused him of unwanted sexual advances. According to the Detroit News, ex-Deputy Chief of Staff Deanna Maher claims the congressman made at least three such advances against her between 1997 and 2005, when she was in charge of Conyers’s field office.
The first instance of harassment happened, Maher said, shortly after the congressman hired her in September 1997 during an event with the Congressional Black Caucus.
“I didn’t have a room, and he had me put in his hotel suite,” said Maher, 77, adding that she rejected his offer to share his room at the Grand Hyatt in Washington and have sex.
The other incidents with the now 88-year-old Conyers involved unwanted touching in a car in 1998 and another unwanted touching of her legs under her dress in 1999, she said.
Arnold Reed, Conyers’ personal attorney, denied Maher’s allegations and questioned their timing in a statement to Detroit News. “At the end of the day, he’s confident that he will be exonerated because he maintains that he has not done anything wrong,” Reed said of his client. He also questioned why Maher would continue to work for the congressman for so many years if Conyers had supposedly done what she claimed he did.
“I needed to earn a living, and I was 57. How many people are going to hire you at that age?” Maher said in response to Reed’s statement. “I didn’t report the harassment because it was clear nobody wanted to take it seriously. John Conyers is a powerful man in Washington, and nobody wanted to cross him.”
(Via Detroit News)