Democrat congressman retires amid sexual harassment claims

A senior Democratic Representative has retired following allegations of sexual harassment by multiple women.

Representative John Conyers of Michigan, the longest-serving Representative in the House, announced he would retire “today”. He did not specify if he would resign immediately, or simply not seek re-election at the end of his term. The Representative endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to replace him in Congress.

Mr Conyers, a civil rights movement veteran, made his announcement on the Mildred Gaddis Show, a talk radio program in Detroit.

“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now,” the 88-year-old said. “This too shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children.”

Mr Conyers has been accused of sexual harassment by at least five women – four of whom were employed by the Congressman at the time. Two of these women attempted to file lawsuits against Mr Conyers, according to BuzzFeed News. The Representative has denied the sexual harassment claims.

The allegations caused multiple Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to call on Mr Conyers to resign. Last week, however, Mr Conyers’s lawyer insisted he would not step down, saying: “It is not up to Nancy Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi did not elect the Congressman and she sure as hell won’t tell the Congressman to leave.”

The Representative has been hospitalised since last Wednesday for a “stress related illness”. Doctors recently advised him that mounting a re-election campaign would put too much of a strain on his health, according to his grand-nephew, Ian Conyers.

“I stand with my uncle in terms of his belief of no specific wrongdoing,” the younger Mr Conyers said of the sexual harassment allegations. “However, those things need to have their day in court.”

Mr Conyers previously settled a wrongful dismissal lawsuit alleging that he propositioned staff members for sex and touched them inappropriately, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News. Another former employee, Melanie Sloan, said the Congressman had verbally abused her and even summoned her to his office while wearing only underwear.

Mr Conyers is one of several members of Congress facing sexual harassment allegations. Senator Al Franken has apologised for kissing a woman without her consent, and for allegedly groping women who posed with him in photo ops. It was recently reported that Representative Blake Farenthold had settled a $84,000 sexual harassment…

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