Congresswomen Allege Sexual Harassment by Lawmakers

The Senate last week unanimously approved a measure requiring all senators, staff and interns to be trained on preventing sexual harassment

A Republican congresswoman said Tuesday she was told recently by a trusted source that a member of Congress exposed himself to a staffer. 

Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., said at a House hearing on preventing sexual harassment on Capitol Hill that she was told about a staffer who quit her job after a lawmaker asked her to bring work material to his house, then exposed himself. 

"That kind of situation, what are we doing here for women, right now, who are dealing with someone like that?" Comstock asked. 

Stories of sexual harassment and gender hostility are continuing to come to light in various industries, including entertainment and politics. 

Comstock did not name the lawmaker nor the staffer. 

At the same hearing, Rep. Jackie Speier said there are two current lawmakers who have been involved in sexual harassment. 

"In fact there are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, who serve right now who have been subject to review, or not been subject to review, that have engaged in sexual harassment," said Speier. 

The Democrat from California recently introduced legislation to make sexual harassment training mandatory for members of Congress after sharing her own story of being assaulted by a male chief of staff. Her bill also includes a survey of the current situation in Congress and an overhaul of the processes by which members and staffers file harassment complaints. 

The bill has gained bipartisan support. Committee chairman Gregg Harper, R-Miss., said in his opening remarks, "I believe we need mandatory training, and probably everyone here would agree." 

The Senate last week unanimously approved a measure requiring all senators, staff and interns to be trained on preventing sexual harassment. On a voice vote, lawmakers adopted a bipartisan resolution calling for training within 60 days of the measure's passage. Each Senate office would have to submit certification of completed training, and the certificate would be published on the public website of the secretary of the Senate. 

The measure had widespread support, and the action occurred within days of the resolution's formal introduction. 

Earlier this month, The Associated Press reported on one current and three former female lawmakers who said they had been harassed or subjected to hostile and sexually suggestive comments by fellow members of Congress, some of whom are still in office.

On Tuesday afternoon, Speaker Paul Ryan announced the House will adopt a policy requiring all members of Congress and their staffs to undergo training to prevent sexual harassment.

Ryan said in a statement, "our goal is not only to raise awareness, but also make abundantly clear that harassment in any form has no place in this institution."

With each passing day, new revelations of sexual misconduct continue to rock the political sphere. In recent days Alabama's Republican nominee for Senate has come under fire after several women have come forward with accounts of sexually inappropriate behavior or, in at least one case, assault, at Moore's hand when they were teenagers. In the wake of the allegations, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Ryan and other Republicans have said Moore should step aside. One Republican has suggested that if elected, Moore should be expelled from the Senate.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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