Second staffer accuses John Conyers of sexual harassment
A second former employee of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) has stepped forward to accuse the congressman of inappropriate touching and sexually harassing her nearly 10 years ago, according to a report in The Detroit News.
Deanna Maher is the second woman to publicly accuse the 88-year-old of having sexually harassed her during her years working with him from 1997 to 2005.
The first time Conyers allegedly sexually harassed Maher was just after she was hired in September 1997, when he made sexual advances toward her during a business trip.
“I didn’t have a room, and he had me put in his hotel suite,” Maher, 77, told the Detroit News. She recalled having refused his offer, but Maher said Conyers touched her inappropriately while he was driving to Detroit Metropolitan Airport in the spring of 1998.
“He was trying to feel me up with his right hand,” Maher said. “I kept pushing his hand away. Then, he put his hand on my neck and started trying to tickle me. We were on I-75, and he was driving erratically. I was saved by the bell because we got pulled over by the police for the way he was driving.”
The third incident took place in 1999 when Maher said Conyers “put his hand up my dress and whispered in my ear, ‘I didn’t know you had such great legs,’” during a meeting in Highland Park, Michigan.
According to Arnold Reed, Conyers’ lawyer, the congressman denies any wrongdoing and questioned the details of Maher’s allegations.
“At best, they are uncorroborated. At worst, they’re just not believable,” Reed told The Detroit News. “When you consider that they’re flying down I-75, he is driving, and has time to do all of that … they get pulled over by a police officer, and she doesn’t tell him what’s going on?”
He added, “Any female or male that comes forward and says anybody harasses them, that is serious. Those things are not to be taken lightly. But we have to be able to at least have some corroboration if we’re going to be saying my client did something wrong.”
Maher did tell a former reporter with the Detroit Free Press and a Detroit News reporter about her interactions with Conyers. However, she didn’t want to speak on-the-record at the time of those discussions, The Detroit News reported.
Allegations against Conyers first emerged last week after BuzzFeed published a report stating Conyers settled a wrongful dismissal case with a former female staffer in 2015. The staffer, who remains anonymous, said she was fired for rejecting the congressman’s sexual advances.
Maher is the second former employee of Conyers to attach her name to the sexual harassment allegations. Melanie Sloan, who served as minority counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, was the first to publicly accuse the congressman of having harassed her when she worked for him in the 1990s.
The House Committee on Ethics has opened an investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment, and Conyers has stepped down as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.
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