Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Seattle became the second House Democrat to call for the resignation of Michigan's Rep. John Conyers over allegations he sexually harassed women who worked for him.
Saying there should be “zero tolerance” for sexual harassment, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, called Tuesday for the resignation of a powerful fellow Democrat, Michigan Rep. John Conyers.
Jayapal became just the second House Democrat to publicly demand that Conyers step down — joining Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y. — and the first member of the House Judiciary Committee, which Conyers has chaired.
Conyers, 88, has denied allegations that he sexually harassed female staff members, but announced this week he’d relinquish his post as ranking Democrat on the committee. The news website BuzzFeed reported last week that Conyers’ office had paid $27,000 in a confidential settlement to a former staffer who claimed she was fired because she rejected his sexual advances.
Allegations of sexual misconductSince The New York Times published allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein in October, multiple men in Hollywood, politics and media have faced allegations ranging from sexual misconduct to rape. Here's a list of some of the people who have been accused.
How have sexual harassment and the #MeToo conversation affected you?We want to hear your thoughts. Whether you work in tech, government, media, finance, the arts or another field, has sexual harassment or sexism affected you or the culture you work in? Are you becoming more cautious with co-workers or other people in your life?
In a statement Tuesday, Jayapal said Democrats “cannot pick and choose” when it comes to sexual-harassment allegations, referring to claims against Republicans, including President Donald Trump and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama.
“Democrats cannot lambaste Trump and Moore, and then turn a blind eye to our own who face credible charges against them,” Jayapal said.
She said women who allege sexual harassment face major obstacles, including difficulty proving claims in courts.
“That means that efforts to stop harassment must recognize that there will be gray areas. Women will come forward and men will deny. The question is: What is society’s response? To truly change norms and cultures, we need to start believing women from the get-go,” Jayapal said.
She added: “The actions and subsequent deflections from the growing tide of sexual harassment cases in Congress not only hurt individual women, but they undermine our institution of democracy. For justice to be done in cases with substantial evidence, a simple denial is not sufficient; the relinquishment of power becomes essential. It is not easy for me to reach this conclusion because, as a civil rights activist, I have looked up to Rep. Conyers for decades. I believe these women, I see the pattern and there is only one conclusion – Mr. Conyers must resign.”
Washington state’s five other Democratic U.S. House members have so far avoided joining calls for Conyers to step down.