Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) allegedly settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 after being accused of firing a female staffer who rejected his sexual advances, BuzzFeed News reported Monday night.
Conyers, 88, is the longest-serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives and among the most powerful members of Congress. In documents affiliated with the case filed by an unnamed woman in 2014, several former staff members also alleged the lawmaker repeatedly asked female employees for sexual favors, inappropriately touched them in public and asked staffers to contact and transport women they believed Conyers was having affairs with.
Read the entire story at BuzzFeed.
On Tuesday, the House Ethics Committee said it had launched an investigation into the claims and said it would look into allegations of sexual harassment by Conyers against members of his staff.
The wrongful dismissal complaint reported by BuzzFeed was filed with Congress’ Office of Compliance after a staffer said she was terminated because she would not “succumb to [Conyer’s] sexual advances.” It was settled in 2015 for $27,111 and included a confidentiality agreement signed by the staffer. Conyers did not admit fault in the complaint.
BuzzFeed spoke with four people involved with the case, including the unnamed accuser, and obtained four signed affidavits from the complaint. The outlet initially obtained the documents from Mike Cernovich, the pro-Donald Trump conspiracy theorist who helped catapult the debunked “Pizzagate” theory, but said it confirmed their provenance independently.
Conyers has served in Congress since 1965 and is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. HuffPost has reached out to his office for comment.
In the affidavits obtained by BuzzFeed, former employees described several instances in which Conyers asked women for sexual favors, including one instance when a woman said he invited her to his hotel room and asked her to “touch it,” meaning his penis. During another encounter, Conyers allegedly told the woman to “just cuddle up with me and caress me” while at a fundraising event.
A report released last week by the Office of Compliance showed Congress had paid more than $17 million in settlements and awards since 1997 for violations of employment rules, including cases of sexual harassment.