Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) has become the center of the congressional sexual assault controversy amidst multiple allegations and revelations that he used taxpayer dollars to settle his own cases. Now another former staffer has come forward, this time former deputy chief of staff Deanna Maher. Maher ran Conyers’ Detroit field office from 1997 to 2005.
The Detroit News reports that Conyers made three inappropriate advances towards her in that time.
One instance occurred in September 1997 during a Congressional Black Caucus event. She didn’t have a room, so he had her put in his hotel suite. At that point, she rejected his offer to share a room and have sex with him.
A second instance occurred in the spring of 1998, en route to Detroit Metropolitan Airport. She was riding in the passenger seat as he tried to feel her up with his right hand and tickle her neck. Conyers’ predatory behavior distracted him from focusing on the road, causing him to drive erratically. He was then pulled over police.
In 1999, a third instance of sexual harassment occurred at Highland Park. In this instance, Conyers put his hand her dress and told her that he didn’t know she had such great legs.
These are horrific allegations, but not out of the norm given other allegations against the prominent Democratic politician. Because of his powerful status, Conyers’ allies have moved to shutdown the victim for coming forward.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) questioned the integrity of the victims on “Meet The Press,” where she defended her congressional colleague as “an icon of this country.” During this interview, she refused to take a position on whether Conyers should resign if the allegations prove to be true.
Conyers’ attorney Arnold Reed called Maher’s integrity into question. He implied she was not credible because she did not come forward at the time and even continued to work for Conyers for many years following the alleged incidents.
The problem here is that it’s not uncommon for victims of sexual assault to feel unable to act, especially if they are working under a powerful individual. Conyers is a prominent public figure. Coming out against him would have put Maher in a terrible position regarding her reputation.
Former Detroit Free Press reporter Joel Thurtell defended the story, claiming he was told at the time of the allegations, but the accuser did not want to go on the record. Maher herself said she remained on the job because of a need for employment and fear that going forward could affect her future employment opportunities.
How many more victims of John Conyers are there throughout America?
It’s a shame that Nancy Pelosi has continued to defend a predator simply because he’s a prominent figure in her political party. Taking a stand against sexual assault should be above partisan politics. These allegations are all very concerning, but the most recent allegation from Deanna Maher is particularly disturbing. John Conyers abused his position to bully employees into uncomfortable positions, seeking sexual favors and acts.
When will Congress take a stand against the sexual predators sitting amongst them?