Another Former Staffer Accuses Conyers Of Sexual Misconduct

Bill Clark/CQPHO

This post has been updated.

Another former staffer to Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) this week accused the powerful Democratic congressman of sexual misconduct, telling the Detroit News that Conyers made unwanted sexual advances on three separate occasions.

Deanna Maher, a former deputy chief of staff who worked for Conyers in his Michigan office from 1997 to 2005, said that the first incident occurred in September 1997 shortly after she was hired by Conyers. Maher told the Detroit News that she did not have her own hotel room for an event with the Congressional Black Caucus, and Conyers had her stay in his hotel suite. Maher said that she rejected the congressman’s offer to stay in his room and have sex.

Maher later described the incident to CNN, and said that Conyers walked into her room in the two-room suite and took off his clothes.

“So I got into bed and all of the sudden, John Conyers walked into my bedroom,” she told CNN. “If you can imagine how ridiculous I looked, I put on my suitcoat. I had a suit coat on in bed. I was shaking. I was absolutely shaking. And he took off his clothes and then I figured it out: ‘Oh my God. What did I do? How stupid. At my age, that I walked in and got myself into a situation like that.'”

Maher said she was silent and that Conyers then left the room.

“He didn’t touch me, so he just stormed out of the room because I didn’t say anything,” she told CNN.

Maher told the Detroit News that Conyers also touched her inappropriately in a car in 1998 while he was driving and she was in the passenger seat.

“He was trying to feel me up with his right hand,” Maher said. “I kept pushing his hand away. Then he put his hand on my neck and started trying to tickle me. We were on I-75, and he was driving erratically. I was saved by the bell because we got pulled over by the police for the way he was driving.”

She also said that during a meeting in 1999, Conyers “put his hand up my dress and whispered in my ear, ‘I didn’t know you had such great legs.'”

Responding to Maher’s claims, Conyers’ lawyer, Arnold Reed, questioned why Maher remained as a Conyers staffer if she faced unwanted sexual advances and denied that Conyers did anything wrong.

Maher told the Detroit News that she remained in the position because she needed the work.

“I needed to earn a living, and I was 57. How many people are going to hire you at that age?” she told the Detroit News.

Maher told former Detroit News reporters about the incidents on two previous occasions but did not want to go on the record then. She also said that she reported an assault by another Conyers staffer to the House Ethics Committee and  U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2001. Maher told the Detroit News that a male employee grabbed her and forcibly kissed her.

Maher is one of several former Conyers staffers who has accused the congressman of sexual misconduct recently. BuzzFeed News reported last week that Conyers reached a settlement with a former staffer who claimed she was fired for refusing Conyers’ sexual advances. Another former Conyers staffer, Melanie Sloan, later told the Washington Post that Conyers verbally abused her and once called her into his office where she found the congressman in his underwear.

Amid the allegations last week, Conyers stepped down as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, but the congressman has denied any wrongdoing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.
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