On Monday it was revealed that Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) paid a former employee $27,000 to settle a wrongful-termination complaint in which she alleged that she was fired because she would not succumb to Conyers’ sexual advances. On Wednesday a new report surfaced that Conyers was accused of sexual misconduct by a second woman earlier this year.
Conyers denied the first allegation, and the second allegation comes as the House Committee on Ethics begins an investigation into the first accusation, ABC News reports.
On Wednesday, Reps. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.)—the chair and ranking member of the House Ethics Committee, respectively—announced: “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 ... has begun an investigation and will gather additional information regarding these allegations.”
Conyers, 88, is the longest-serving current member of the House of Representatives. He said in a statement that he “expressly and vehemently” denied the claims in the first allegation, which was initially reported by BuzzFeed.
“It is important to recognize that the mere making of an allegation does not mean it is true,” Conyers said.
Conyers said that his office had “resolved the allegations,” although with an “express denial of liability, in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation.”
Conyers also said, “The resolution was not for millions of dollars, but rather for an amount that equated to a reasonable severance payment.”
ABC News obtained filings from a complaint Conyers’ longtime scheduler filed in federal court earlier this year. The woman had asked the court to keep the complaint under seal to protect her privacy, but the judge rejected her request, and she subsequently dropped the case.
In the complaint, the woman—who has known Conyers since 2006 and began working as a scheduler in 2015—alleged that Conyers made “sexual advances in the form of inappropriate comments and touches” that were so frequent “that they created a hostile work environment.” The repeated harassment caused her to suffer “insomnia, anxiety, depression and chest pains.”
In 2016 she requested sick leave, but because she was unable to provide medical documentation for the leave, her position was terminated.
Before the ethics committee’s announcement Tuesday, Conyers said that he would “fully cooperate with an investigation.”
“The process must be fair to both the employee and the accused. The current media environment is bringing a much-needed focus to the important issue of preventing harassment in workplaces across the country,” Conyers said. “However, equally important to keep in mind in this particular moment is the principle of due process and that those accused of wrongdoing are presumed innocent unless and until an investigation establishes otherwise. In our country, we strive to honor this fundamental principle that all are entitled to due process.”
The Detroit Free Press, Conyers’ hometown newspaper, called for Conyers’ resignation in a Wednesday editorial, saying, “whatever Conyers’ eventual legacy will be, his tenure as a member of Congress must end—now.”
Read more at ABC News.