Published: Wed, November 15, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

A Member of Congress Exposed Himself to a Staffer, Lawmakers Say

A Member of Congress Exposed Himself to a Staffer, Lawmakers Say

Speier, D-Calif., who has talked about her own experience being sexually harassed when she was a congressional staffer, said her office has been flooded with calls since she came forward.

Ryan said in a statement that the goal is "not only to raise awareness, but also make abundantly clear that harassment in any form has no place in this institution". "But that kind of situation - what are we doing here for women right now who are dealing with somebody like that?"

"A young staffer had been asked to go to a member's residence to bring some documents and was greeted by a member in a towel who then brought her in and exposed himself and she left and she made a decision to quit the office and has moved on", Comstock said.

"In fact there are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, who serve right now who have been subject to review, or not been subject to review, that have engaged in sexual harassment", said Speier.

She did not name the lawmakers mentioned in her testimony, citing the non-disclosure agreements she wants to eliminate.

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The hearing by the panel, which oversees the chamber's operations, is part of a review of how the House handles sexual harassment claims.

Addressing the issue will be complex and "at times uncomfortable", Speier said, as she applauded colleagues from both parties for supporting efforts to mandate sexual harassment training.

The House Administration Committee, which issues policies for congressional offices, is considering new policies on sexual harassment, including new training requirements.

Lawmakers Tuesday focused also on the long-term effects of sexual harassment and misconduct on the Capitol.

"There is a new recognition of this problem and the need for change of culture that looks the other way because of who the offenders are", she said.

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One lawmaker, Republican Rodney Davis of IL, said that some female staffers in his office anxious that "some offices might take a shortcut and not hire women as a way to avoid these issues". Payouts to the victims were not financed by the people who engaged in sexual harassment but by taxpayers.

Interns and fellows do not have access to the process, she noted.

Several Democrats are sponsoring legislation that would change the way sexual harassment complaints are handled. He said that would be more effective than the "current patchwork" of policies.

Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), a member on the committee, also said she had heard of a congressman who is now serving who had exposed himself to a young female staffer. If a member of Congress has been accused, they receive a House lawyer to represent them for free while the accuser does not receive free counsel. The House is expected to follow suit but has yet to make the shift, and Speier called for a sweeping overhaul of a system that can force harassment victims to wait for months, and undergo mandatory mediation, before filing a complaint.

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