Rep. Kathleen Rice is calling on fellow Democratic Rep. John Conyers to resign after it was reported he settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 after a former employee accused him of firing her for not yielding to his “sexual advances.”
“I’ve reviewed the allegations against him, and they’re as credible as they are repulsive,” Rice, D-N.Y., said in a statement Wednesday. “The women who reported this behavior suffered serious professional repercussions for doing so, which is exactly why so many victims of sexual harassment and assault decide not to step forward. If men who engage in this behavior suffered real repercussions, more victims would speak up -- and maybe other men would decide to act like decent, civilized adults and not prey on women who work for trust and admire them.”
“Whether it happened 40 years ago or last week, settlement or no settlement, Democrat or Republican -- harassment is harassment, assault is assault,” she added. “We all know credible allegations when we hear them, and the same is true of hypocrisy.”
Rice is the first House Democrat to call on Conyers to resign, but Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., already said Conyers, D-Mich., should step down as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee as the House Committee on Ethics conducts its probe concerning the allegations.
Separate from the settlement report, Conyers on multiple occasions made unwanted sexual advanced to his female staff, BuzzFeed reported Monday, citing affidavits signed by four former staffers, three of which are notarized.
The sexual misconduct included asking for sexual favors, caressing and touching, rubbing legs and backs in public, and having his staff contact and transport women they believed were having affairs with Conyers.
Additionally, another former employee who worked as a scheduler for Conyers said Conyers touched her inappropriately “repeatedly and daily” in a lawsuit that was eventually withdrawn. She was fired in 2016.
Conyers is the longest serving member of Congress and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.