A staffer who worked for U.S. Representative John Conyers for 11 years has gone public with her allegations against the civil rights icon, telling the Today show on Thursday that she reached a settlement with him after enduring near-constant sexual harassment and abuse. Also on Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the iconic congressman should resign amid the mounting accusations.
Speaking with reporters, Pelosi was questioned about why hadn’t called on Conyers to resign. Pelosi replied, “The allegations against Congressman Conyers, as we have learned more since Sunday, are serious, disappointing and very credible. It’s very sad. The brave women who came forward are owed justice. I pray for Congressman Conyers and his family, and wish them well. However … Congressman Conyers should resign.” Watch her remarks below.
The staffer who spoke out on the Today show, Marion Brown, explained that she was taking a risk by speaking out since she had signed a nondisclosure agreement, but that she could no longer stand having to listen to Conyers repeatedly deny and obfuscate the nature of the settlement while she was being forced to sit silent.
“I am taking a risk, and the reason I’m taking the risk, I want to be a voice,” Brown told Savannah Guthrie. “I want (my granddaughter) to not have to endure sexism and gender inequality. I felt it was worth the risk to stand up for all the women in the workforce that are voiceless … I’m here to say I’m not a liar.”
“It was sexual harassment, violating my body, propositioning me, inviting me to hotels with the guise of discussing business and propositioning for sex,” she added. “He just violated my body, he’s touched me in different ways. It was very uncomfortable and very unprofessional.”
Brown also shared with Today one of the more disturbing incidents she had with Conyers in 2005, after he had asked her to do work out of his Chicago hotel room.
“He has undressed down to his underwear,” she recalled. “He asked me to satisfy him sexually. He pointed to genital areas of his body and asked me to touch him,” she said. “I was frozen, shocked. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to lose my job, I didn’t want to upset him. Also, he asked me to find other people that would satisfy him. I just tried to escape.” Brown then told Today she told him she did not feel comfortable and was not going to do that.
News of Brown’s allegations against Conyers were first published anonymously by BuzzFeed, after the media company obtained four signed affidavits from Brown’s wrongful dismissal complaint. Brown accused Conyers of firing her for turning down his sexual advances, an assertion that was backed up by the testimony of other staffers who also said they either faced or witnessed similar advances from the congressman. In recent days, former Conyers employee Melanie Sloan also came forward to say that Conyers had called her into his office while in his underwear, and another staffer, Deanna Maher, said that Conyers had tried to solicit sex from her on multiple occasions while she worked for him between 1997 and 2005.
A current aide to Conyers has said that the 88-year-old was recently hospitalized due to stress, much of which, the aide claimed, “is directly attributable to this media assault.”
Watch Brown’s interview with Today below.
Read the full story at Today.