John Conyers' accusers describe sexual advances and inappropriate remarks

Conyers on Capitol Hill in Washington in July 2017. PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - Representative John Conyers Jr, who resigned on Tuesday (Dec 5), is facing allegations from five women who said the 88-year-old lawmaker behaved inappropriately or made sexual advances towards them.

The House Ethics Committee opened an investigation. Conyers has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Deanna Maher, who ran Conyers' Michigan district congressional office from 1997 to 2005, said Conyers made unwanted sexual advances towards her in September 1997 during a three-day Congressional Black Caucus event.

She said she rejected his advances.

Maria Reddick, Conyers' former scheduler, filed a lawsuit earlier this year but voluntarily withdrew it after her motion to have it sealed was denied. Reddick said she was fired over her complaints about Conyers' conduct and sought about US$110,000 (S$148,000) in back pay and damages.

Melanie Sloan, an ethics lawyer in Washington, worked for Conyers from 1995 to 1998, and said he harassed and verbally abused her, although she said she did not consider it sexual harassment.

She described being summoned to Conyers' office for a meeting and arriving to find him in his underwear.

Sloan told The Washington Post that she repeatedly asked congressional leaders for help with the situation.

Marion Brown was paid US$27,000 in a 2015 sexual harassment settlement. Brown said she was fired for refusing Conyers' sexual advances. The House Ethics Committee said it would investigate after BuzzFeed News reported details of her settlement, which was paid by putting her on Conyers' payroll as a temporary employee.

Elisa Grubbs, who was a Conyers staff member from 2001 to 2013, said the lawmaker exposed himself to her on one occasion and inappropriately touched her numerous times.

In a sworn affidavit released on Monday by her attorney, Lisa Bloom, Grubbs said Conyers would routinely sit "close to me while stroking and rubbing my thighs".

She said that on one occasion, when she was at Conyers' home, he "came out of the bathroom completely naked".

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