Report: Dem Rep. Settled Complaint From Staffer Alleging Sexual Misconduct

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., speaks during a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, April 4, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/AP

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) settled a complaint in 2015 from a staffer who claimed that she was fired for refusing the congressman’s sexual advances, BuzzFeed News reported Monday night, citing affidavits from the process and people familiar with the settlement.

Conyers made sexual advances on more than one female staffer and asked at least one woman to perform sexual favors for him, according to affidavits obtained by BuzzFeed News. BuzzFeed published three of the affidavits and four people involved in the case confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the documents are authentic.

At the end of the complaint process, Conyers paid the former staffer a $27,000 settlement and the staffer signed a confidentiality agreement, according to BuzzFeed News. The settlement was paid out of Conyers’ office budget, not out of the fund designated for such settlements in the Office of Compliance, per BuzzFeed. That office had paid about $17 million to settle more than 260 complaints over the past 20 years, according to the Washington Post.

The woman who filed the complaint about Conyers and ultimately agreed to the settlement told BuzzFeed News that she felt she had no other option.

“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she told BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed News originally obtained the documents related to the case from Mike Cernovich, a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist who pushed the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. The outlet then confirmed the documents’ authenticity with four people involved in the case, including the woman who accused Conyers of sexual misconduct.

The former staffer alleged that Conyers once asked her to work out of his hotel room, where he then talked about his sexual desires and told her to “touch it,” referring to his penis, according to BuzzFeed. On another occasion, Conyers asked the staffer to stay with him in his hotel room, and when she declined, he asked her to “just cuddle up with me and caress me before you go,” per BuzzFeed News.

In affidavits published by BuzzFeed, three other former staffers described Conyers’ behavior with female staffers. In one affidavit, a staffer alleged that Conyers rubbed her hand in a sexual manner prompting her to tell him she did not want a sexual relationship with him. She said she was later fired from her position in Conyers’ congressional office. This staffer also said Conyers asked another staffer for sexual favors.

One staffer to Conyers described in an affidavit that the congressman would rub a woman’s legs, invited staffers to his hotel room and apartment, and would ask staffers to provide transportation for women with whom it was believed he was having affairs.

In yet another affidavit, a staffer alleged that Conyers asked another staffer for sexual favors. The staffer said that Conyers wanted to fire a staffer for being “too old.”

Read Buzzfeed News’ full report here.

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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