Male lawmaker says he witnessed harassment of female colleague

Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) revealed Wednesday that he once witnessed a fellow male lawmaker sexually harass a female colleague on the House floor.

He was among multiple lawmakers to reveal examples of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill during House floor debate on a measure requiring annual training for members and staff meant to address the problem.

Brady, the top Democrat on the House Administration Committee, described how he was once speaking with a female lawmaker “where I stay back in the corner there.”


A male member of Congress then walked by and groped the female lawmaker from behind.

Brady tried to confront the perpetrating lawmaker, but his female colleague talked him out of it.

“I reached over — and lucky for him, I just couldn’t grab him. And I wanted to chase him down the aisle,” Brady said.

“But the congresslady, classy as she is, says, ’No, don’t do that. You may get in a little trouble. We will take care of him.’ And he got taken care of pretty well.”

Brady did not specify when the harassment occurred or what happened to the male lawmaker.

“Men have a responsibility to stand up and confront this behavior when we see it,” Brady said.

The House adopted the resolution requiring sexual harassment awareness training easily by voice vote. Until now, the training had only been optional.

Passage of the measure may be the easiest action for lawmakers seeking to reform workplace harassment policies amid the fallout of sexual misconduct allegations on Capitol Hill.

Some female lawmakers have shared their own experiences with sexual harassment in recent weeks.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) recalled a chief of staff forcibly kissing her when she worked as a congressional aide in the 1970s; Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said that ex-Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) tried to pin her against an elevator and kiss her; and Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) revealed that a former male colleague touched her inappropriately on the House floor, while another current lawmaker tried to proposition her.

Speier told the House Administration Committee earlier this month that she has heard of sexual harassment allegations against two current male lawmakers of each party. At the same hearing, Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) told a story she heard secondhand of a female staffer who quit her job because a male lawmaker exposed himself to her.

Speier offered yet another example of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill during House floor debate on Wednesday.

According to Speier, a male lawmaker came up behind a woman during a late-night House session, grinded his body against hers, and stuck his tongue in her ear.

“That happened on this floor with members — probably — standing around,” Speier said.

One current House member has been publicly accused of sexual harassment. BuzzFeed reported last week that Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), the longest-serving member of the House, agreed to a more than $27,000 taxpayer-funded settlement with a former staffer who alleged she was wrongfully terminated because she resisted his sexual advances.

Conyers denied wrongdoing and said that the settlement was reached to avoid protracted litigation.

Another former female staffer told The Detroit News this week that Conyers also sexually harassed her.

He has since stepped aside from his position as the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee amid an ethics investigation of the allegations. But Conyers has said he does not plan to resign, despite growing pressure from fellow Democrats.

Tags Barbara Comstock Diana DeGette Feminism Jackie Speier Jackie Speier John Conyers John Conyers Sex crimes Sexual harassment

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