DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Members of U.S. Rep. John Conyers’ family rallied in support of the 88-year-old lawmaker who is facing calls for his resignation after sexual harassment allegations by several former staffers.
Monica Conyers told reporters staked outside the couple’s gated Detroit home Wednesday that her husband is entitled to have the judicial process play out “before we start being his judge and jury … and tarnish all of these years of his legacy for nothing.”
The Congressman’s son, John Conyers, II, says it’s disconcerting to see how his father is being treated in the wake of allegations that the longest-serving member of the House made unwanted sexual advances.
“It’s very unfortunate to see him fight so long for so many people and to automatically have the allegations assumed to be true…and of course, with sexual assault, women are to be believed,” he said, adding: “But in this instance he has no history of this.”
Former staffer Deanna Maher, who ran a Michigan office for Conyers from 1997 to 2005, said Tuesday that the congressman partially undressed in front of her in a hotel room and touched her inappropriately.
Maher said while she was in the bedroom of a hotel suite during a three-day Congressional Black Caucus event in Washington, which she said she “felt honored” to attend, Conyers walked in, called room service and ordered sandwiches.
“I had my nightclothes on,” said Maher, who now lives in the Holland area in western Michigan. “I was just scared to death. I was married at the time. He sat in the bedroom taking his clothes off. I didn’t say anything and he didn’t say anything.”
Nothing happened between them, she added.
“He didn’t go naked. He was down to his skivvies,” Maher said. “He sat there eating sandwiches and then he stormed out and slammed the door. I was so embarrassed and ashamed of myself for being so stupid. I needed a job.”
“He didn’t put his hand on me, but the message was loud and clear,” she said.
She said there were other incidents involving unwanted touching in a car in 1998 and unwanted touching of her legs under her dress in 1999.
“He was feeling me up,” she said.
Conyers missed two roll call votes in the House late Tuesday and was photographed by a passenger boarding a flight to Detroit from Washington. Pressure is growing from fellow Democrats for Conyers to resign from the House following the latest allegations.
Last week, BuzzFeed News reported that the 88-year-old lawmaker had settled a complaint in 2015 from a woman staffer who alleged she was fired because she rejected his sexual advances.
BuzzFeed reported that Conyers’ office paid the woman over $27,000 to settle the complaint under a confidentiality agreement. BuzzFeed also published affidavits from former staff members who said they had witnessed Conyers touching female staffers inappropriately or requesting sexual favors.
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