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SJL accused of retaliation against staffer

Not good.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

Houston Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee, under fire from a former aide’s lawsuit alleging she was fired in connection with a sexual assault complaint, said Wednesday that she will step down temporarily as chairwoman of a key House Judiciary subcommittee on criminal justice.

Jackson Lee, in her 13th term, also resigned as chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, a post that helped raise her national profile.

The lawsuit, filed by a woman who worked in Jackson Lee’s office from November 2017 to March 2018, claims that she was dismissed after notifying the congresswoman’s chief of staff that she planned to take legal action against the foundation over an alleged sexual assault involving one of the group’s supervisors.

She is identified in court records only as “Jane Doe,” a special assistant and director of public engagement. Her suit says she sometimes served as Jackson Lee’s personal driver.

Jackson Lee issued a statement Wednesday “adamantly” denying the woman’s allegation and recounting her record of advancing civil rights and non-discrimination legislation, including a law that applies to Congress.

[…]

The lawsuit stems from events October 2015, when the woman, then a 19-year-old Howard University intern for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, alleges that a 30-year-old male supervisor she was drinking and socializing with took her to his home and forced her to have sex.

According to her complaint filed in a federal court in Washington, the woman reported the incident to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and was told the supervisor would be placed on leave. She decided not to bring legal action against the foundation at the time.

She also reported the assault to Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, which investigated but did not bring charges.

The woman was hired by Jackson Lee’s office two years later after she graduated from Howard. The earlier incident involving the foundation supervisor, identified as Damien Jones, did not come to light until Jones also was being considered for a job in Jackson Lee’s office.

The woman then reportedly told Jackson Lee’s chief of staff, Glenn Rushing, about the “prior situation.” Jones was not hired.

[…]

In the lawsuit, the woman said that soon after going to work for Jackson Lee, she learned about a text message sent to Jackson Lee by A. Shuanise Washington, the foundation’s chief executive, offering “background” on the woman.

The woman said she connected the text to her assault and told Rushing that she would take legal action against the foundation. She also said she wanted to speak to Jackson Lee personally. Instead, she said, she was fired. The reason given was “budgetary issues.”

Her lawsuit names both Jackson Lee’s office and the foundation, which released a statement promising to cooperate with an investigation of the woman’s claims.

Jones, the alleged rapist, also denies the accusation. The Trib had a brief story about the lawsuit, which includes a link to it. Stepping down as committee chair is the right thing for Rep. Lee to do for now, as we don’t have much information to go on. If there’s merit to the accusation – I hope there isn’t, but there very well could be – it won’t be enough. In that case, she will need to resign. Either we hold ourselves accountable, or our words mean nothing.

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6 Comments

  1. The Public says:

    Holding ones self accountable is the highest form of public service. Sadly, if this is true, this type of unethical behavior is common among many elected officials from both parties. I would love to see the HCDP draft a set of standards for ethical conduct they expect from candidates and public officials. I’d be happy to help.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    ” If there’s merit to the accusation – I hope there isn’t, but there very well could be – it won’t be enough.”

    Kuff,

    Why would you hope the accusation isn’t true? That would mean that a woman was lying, and as we all know, we must believe all wamyn.

    Truly, an allegation by a woman ought to be enough to get SJL to resign. It’s just a job, not a criminal proceeding, the standard of evidence doesn’t need to be that high. For the good of the country, she should step down. I just can’t believe there is not someone else we could find to represent her district that did not fire a female victim of sexual assault for complaining. Surely there is someone in her district that is above reproach?

  3. Paul Kubosh says:

    I like Shelia Jackson Lee and if every Republican congressman worked their district as hard as she works hers then people like Culberson would still be in office.

  4. Manny Barrera says:

    Thank you Paul, anyone that knew SJL would agree with you.

    Bill, why isn’t the Russian asset resigning?

    I will enjoy seeing him behind the great big beautiful wall that he will have to go to.

  5. C.L. says:

    I sat in my house, in SJL’s district, for seventeen days post Hurricane Ike w/o power. I called, emailed and snail mailed her office starting at the one week mark, begging for assistance to get my and my neighbors power restored… nothing, nada, zip. She wasnt all that responsive to her constituents needs then, I’d be surprised if she even read the purported phone text from Washington. Not sure why SJL would take time out of her busy schedule chasing photographers to chat it up with an entry level employee who had worked in one of her offices for less than six months.

    She may be getting too much credit on this one.

  6. Paul Kubosh says:

    We were without power for 10 days. You were not alone in your misery. I would be surprised if she had any authority over the trucks from Virginia that were down here helping us. What do I know?