WASHINGTON – House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday said he is troubled by recent news of a report alleging sexual harassment by a member of Congress and explained that Capitol Hill procedures for dealing with harassment are under review.
“This report is extremely troubling,” Ryan said in a statement.
“Last month, I directed the Committee on House Administration to conduct a full review of all policies and procedures related to workplace harassment and discrimination,” he explained. “A Committee hearing last week examining this issue led to a new policy of mandatory training for all members and staff.”
Ryan said in the statement: “Additional reforms to the system are under consideration.”
Ryan comments follow the publication of a report by BuzzFeed claiming that House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) in 2015 settled a wrongful dismissal complaint brought against him by a former staffer. The staffer said her employment ended after she refused Conyers’ advances.
BuzzFeed obtained affidavits related to the complaint. The complainant signed a nondisclosure agreement as part of the $27,000 settlement she received. Conyers did not admit wrongdoing in the agreement.
Conyers told the Associated Press on Tuesday morning that he was not aware of the settlement and that the allegations are false.
“I have been looking at these things in amazement,” he said.
Conyers on Tuesday afternoon released a statement that acknowledged the settlement and reiterated that the allegations are false.
“I expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made against me, and continue to do so,” he said.
“My office resolved the allegations – with an express denial of liability – in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation,” Conyers explained.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement Tuesday that the allegations against Conyers “must be investigated by the Ethics Committee.”
News of the sexual harassment allegations against Conyers follows recent allegations of sexual misconduct against Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.