Conyers acknowledges settlement, but says charges are untrue

Conyers acknowledges settlement, but says charges are untrue
© Greg Nash

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) on Tuesday issued a statement denying the sexual harassment allegations against him while acknowledging the existence of a settlement with a former employee in 2015.

Conyers said he "vehemently" denies the allegations made by the former employee but settled with her to avoid litigation.

"My office resolved the allegations — with an express denial of liability — in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation." 

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"There are statutory requirements of confidentiality that apply to both the employee and me regarding this matter," he said.

BuzzFeed News obtained documents in which former staff members alleged that Conyers repeatedly made sexual advances to female aides.

The report said Conyers settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged he fired her because she would not "succumb to [his] sexual advances." 

Other staffers alleged that he made requests for sexual favors, inappropriately touched staffers and used congressional resources to transport women that they believed he was having affairs with at the time.

Conyers, the longest-serving member of the House, said he will "fully cooperate" with an investigation "to the extent the House determines to look further at these issues."

Earlier in the day Conyers appeared to deny knowledge of the dismissal settlement, telling The Associated Press he had been "looking at these things in amazement." 

His office issued a statement clarifying that Conyers was confused by the reporter's question.

“The Associated Press made an unannounced visit to the home of Congressman Conyers this morning. Congressman Conyers was under the impression the reporter was speaking of recent allegations of which he was unaware of and denied,” the statement says.

Conyers, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, stressed the need for due process while underscoring that allegations, while important to take seriously, should not be deemed true until properly investigated.

“It is important to recognize that the mere making of an allegation does not mean it is true. The process must be fair to both the employee and the accused," he said in part, adding that "those accused of wrongdoing are presumed innocent unless and until an investigation establishes otherwise.”