John Conyers hunkers down in Detroit as Congressional Black Caucus members urge him to resign after former staffer accused him of sexual harassment
- Congressional Black Caucus members, all Democrats, are urging John Conyers to resign from Congress
- Conyers was seen flying home to Detroit with his wife Tuesday afternoon
- He has been accused of sexually harassing Deanna Maher, 77, a former staffer
- Maher said the first incident occurred?during a Congressional Black Caucus event in Washington in 1997?
- She said he came to her hotel room and ordered sandwiches before stripping down to his underwear
The latest shoe to drop in the John Conyers saga has his fellow Democrats in the Congressional Black Caucus privately urging him to resign from the House of Representatives.
The group's chairman, Rep. Cedric Richmond, says he and the Michigan congressman had a 'candid conversation about the seriousness of the allegations against him.'
'Any decision to resign from office before the ethics investigation is complete is John's decision to make,' Richmond said in a statement after the meeting.
Reps. Kathleen Rice of New York and Pramila Jayapal of Washington, both Democrats, have publicly called for Conyers to quit.
Members of the all-Democrat Congressional Black Caucus are pressing Michigan Rep. John Conyers to resign amid accusations of sexual harassment and unwanted touching
'The actions and subsequent deflections from the growing tide of sexual harassment cases in Congress not only hurt individual women, but they undermine our institution of democracy,' Jayapal said in a statement.
'It is not easy for me to reach this conclusion because, as a civil rights activist, I have looked up to Rep. Conyers for decades. I believe these women, I see the pattern and there is only one conclusion – Mr. Conyers must resign.'
The 88-year-old Conyers is the longest-serving member of the House. He was first elected in 1964 and co-founded the Black Caucus.
Conyers boarded a flight home to Detroit alongside his wife by on Tuesday afternoon as sexual harassment allegations against him continue to mount
He boarded a flight home to Detroit alongside his wife by on Tuesday afternoon as sexual harassment allegations against him continue to mount.
Calls for the Michigan Representative to resign have grown even louder after a former staffer said he made unwanted sexual advances.?
She accused the longest-serving member of the House of partially undressing in front of her in a hotel room in 1997 and inappropriately touching her.?
Deanna Maher, 77, who ran a Michigan office for Conyers from 1997 to 2005, said the first incident occurred during a three-day Congressional Black Caucus event in Washington, which she said she 'felt honored' to attend.
Maher said while she was in the bedroom of a hotel suite, Conyers, who is now 88, walked in, called room service and ordered sandwiches.
'I had my nightclothes on,' said Maher, who now lives in the Holland area in western Michigan.?
'I was just scared to death. I was married at the time. He sat in the bedroom taking his clothes off. I didn't say anything and he didn't say anything.'
Nothing happened between them, she added.
Calls for the Michigan Representative have grown even louder after former staffer Deanna Maher (pictured right), 77, said he made unwanted sexual advances in 1997
'He didn't go naked. He was down to his skivvies,' Maher said. 'He sat there eating sandwiches and then he stormed out and slammed the door. I was so embarrassed and ashamed of myself for being so stupid. I needed a job.'
'He didn't put his hand on me, but the message was loud and clear,' she said.
Maher's allegations against Conyers initially were reported by The Detroit News. She said there were other incidents involving unwanted touching in a car in 1998 and unwanted touching of her legs under her dress in 1999.
Conyers was driving the two to a Detroit-area airport in 1998 when he began touching her leg, Maher told the AP.
'He was feeling me up,' she said. 'He was an older guy, a terrible driver and all over Interstate 75. He was stopped by a (Michigan State Police) trooper.'
Conyers' attorney, Arnold Reed, said Maher's allegations are uncorroborated and Conyers denies wrongdoing.
'John Conyers has always said he's not guilty of harassing these women,' Reed said.?
'Any woman or man that is violated, that's unacceptable - completely unacceptable. By the same token, a person has right to protest his innocence. This is what we call due process. Mr. Conyers wants to be cooperative and will be cooperative with any investigation.'
Last week, BuzzFeed News reported that Conyers lawmaker had settled a complaint in 2015 from a woman staffer who alleged she was fired because she rejected his sexual advances.
BuzzFeed reported that Conyers' office paid the woman over $27,000 to settle the complaint under a confidentiality agreement. The outlet also published affidavits from former staff members who said they had witnessed Conyers touching female staffers inappropriately or requesting sexual favors.?
Maher's allegations against Conyers initially were reported by The Detroit News. She said there were other incidents involving unwanted touching in a car in 1998 and unwanted touching of her legs under her dress in 1999
Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi said he met with Conyers on Tuesday to let him know he was concerned for him.
'I think he should go home and talk to his constituents and listen to them and make a decision based on that,' Thompson said.
Conyers missed two roll call votes in the House Tuesday evening.
A senior Democratic aide said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has been putting pressure on Conyers to resign from the chamber. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal private conversations.
The House Ethics Committee is investigating allegations against Conyers, who has denied the accusations and refused to resign. He announced Sunday that he would step aside as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
Separately Tuesday, the House's top Democrat said in a letter to the ethics panel that it should move quickly with its inquiry.
'We are at a watershed moment for our country in the fight against sexual harassment and discrimination,' wrote Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.?
'The Committee on Ethics has a great responsibility to proceed expeditiously as well as fairly into any investigation of credible harassment and discrimination allegations.'
The Senate Ethics Committee could also soon be investigating allegations made against Sen. Al Franken after radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden accused him of forcibly kissing her on a USO tour in the Middle East in 2006, before he was elected to office.?
Tweeden also released a photograph of Franken appearing to grope her breasts while she's sleeping. Two women have also come forward to accuse Franken of grabbing their buttocks while posing for photographs.
Franken has apologized and said he welcomed an investigation.
The lawmakers are among a number of prominent men in politics, entertainment and journalism who have been accused of sexual misconduct in the wake of explosive allegations against former Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein.?
Also last week, Rep. Joe Barton apologized for a nude photograph leaked on social media.?
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