Longtime Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee has announced plans to resign as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus’ nonprofit operation, after she was named in a lawsuit alleging she fired a young woman who planned to press charges after an alleged sexual assault by a former Congressional Black Congress Foundation employee.
Jackson Lee also vacated her seat on the powerful Judiciary committee, while stepping down as chair of a subcommittee on an interim basis.
The ex-staffer, identified as Jane Doe in the suit, alleged a 30-year-old supervisor assaulted her in 2015. Doe, a 19-year-old Howard undergrad at the time of the assault, alleges her male supervisor forced her to perform oral sex at his home before she woke up naked and in pain the next day.
Doe met Glenn Rushing, Jackson Lee’s chief of staff, at a networking event two years after the alleged assault, as a recent college graduate. Determined to make a name for herself in national politics, she was hired as a special assistant and director of public engagement. After learning of her alleged assailant’s desire to work with Jackson Lee, Doe told Rushing “that she had a “prior situation’ with (him) and was not comfortable working with him.” Rushing told her she would not hire him.
Doe, who is seeking damages of $75,000, was fired on March 29th of last year. According to the suit, she was told she would be let go “because of budgetary issues.” Struggling with anxiety and depression since her assault, her conditioned worsened.
In a statement released earlier today, Jackson Lee denied any retaliation on her part.
“While we still deny the allegations,” said the statement, “we are especially concerned about Ms. Doe and only want the best for her and the many, many young people that the Congressional office has supported, encouraged and provided opportunities for over 20 years.”
“The congresswoman is confident,” the statement continued,“that, once all of the facts come to light, her office will be exonerated of any retaliatory or otherwise improper conduct and this matter will be put to rest.”