U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich, announced Sunday he will step down from his position as the ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed female members of his staff and misused taxpayer funds to settle such claims during his time in office.
In a statement, Conyers said he has informed the Democratic Leader of his decision to leave his position while the allegations are being investigated, after much consideration.
“After careful consideration and in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me, I have notified the Democratic Leader of my request to step aside as Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee during the investigation of these matters,” Conyers said.
According to a BuzzFeed News report, Conyers has been accused of secretly making a $27,000 settlement for a sexual harassment claim made in 2015. Furthermore, Buzzfeed stated they have attained four affidavits from former congressional employees claiming to have witnessed Conyers making inappropriate sexual advances towards other female employees.
These documents also include further specifics about the 2015 settlement case, in which the alleged victim told Buzzfeed News she had no other option — due to Conyer’s position — than to accept his settlement and remain quiet about the case.
“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she said.
In a later statement, Conyers confirmed he did indeed reach a settlement with the staffer who first brought the case against him, but denied guilt of sexual harassment.
“I expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made against me, and continue to do so,” Conyers said. “My office resolved the allegations — with an express denial of liability — to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation. That should not be lost in the narrative.”
Public Policy junior Lauren Schandevel, communications director for the University’s chapter of College Democrats, emphasized the severity of the allegations and said she hopes the Ethics Committee will investigate the case in a timely manner.
“We hope the Ethics Committee will handle the case promptly. These allegations are serious and inappropriate for any member of the party, let alone a leader,” Schandevel said.
College Republicans did not respond to request for comment.