Monday night, an explosive report was published revealing that Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, had settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 for over $27,000 with a former employee after she accused him of firing her because she refused his sexual advances.
The woman was reportedly paid out of Conyers’ taxpayer-funded office budget.
In addition, documents revealed that several former staff members had reported sexual harassment by Conyers, 88, who has been a member of the House of Representatives for 52 years.
Allegations against the congressman include requests for sexual favors, touching female staff inappropriately, and being asked to contact other women, with whom he was believed to be having affairs, from a list and having them flown in, then driving them to Conyers’ apartment or hotel rooms, according to the report.
Tuesday, Conyers finally admitted to the settlement, but said he “vehemently denied” the allegations.
“My office resolved the allegations — with an express denial of liability — in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation. There are statutory requirements of confidentiality that apply to both the employee and me regarding this matter,” he said.
“It is important to recognize that the mere making of an allegation does not mean it is true. The process must be fair to both the employee and the accused,” he said in a statement issued from his office, adding that “those accused of wrongdoing are presumed innocent unless and until an investigation establishes otherwise.”
Conyers indicated that since the settlement was not for “millions of dollars,” that should be considered.
“In this case, I expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made against me and continue to do so,” Conyers said, adding that his office resolved the allegations. “That should not be lost in the narrative. The resolution was not for millions of dollars, but rather for an amount that equated to a reasonable severance payment.”
An investigation is indeed underway. Tuesday afternoon, Ethics Committee Chairwoman Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., and Ranking Member Rep. Theodore Deutch, R-Fla., said in a statement:
“The Committee is aware of public allegations that Representative John Conyers, Jr. may have engaged in sexual harassment of members of his staff, discriminated against certain staff on the basis of age, and used official resources for impermissible personal purposes. The Committee, pursuant to Committee Rule 18(a), has begun an investigation and will gather additional information regarding these allegations.
“The Committee notes that the mere fact is that it is investigating these allegations, and publicly disclosing its review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgement on behalf of the Committee.”
JUST IN: House Ethics Committee says it has begun an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Rep. John Conyers pic.twitter.com/9ZS63nWSZK
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) November 21, 2017