Gillibrand: Aide who claimed sexual harassment was 'believed'

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) addressed the handling of a sexual harassment complaint within her senate office at a town hall event Monday night, telling voters that her former staffer was "believed."

"In terms of my own office, the woman who came forward, she was believed, her allegations were taken seriously," Gillibrand said during the town hall, which was broadcast on MSNBC. "This employee was dearly valued. I told her that she was loved, by us, by our office, by me personally."

Gillibrand, who on Sunday officially launched her 2020 presidential campaign, reiterated that an investigation found the complaint did not rise to sexual harassment, but that there was evidence of derogatory comments. She added that the senior aide who was the subject of the allegations, Abbas Malik, "was punished."

The former aide to the senator resigned last summer after she said an older, male colleague made unwanted advances and used degrading language. The allegations were first reported by Politico.

The incident has led to scrutiny for Gillibrand, who has been at the forefront of the "Me Too" movement and has long track record of advocating for reforming how institutions handle allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

Gillibrand was the first senator to call for the resignation of former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) after he was accused of misconduct and responded to criticism about the matter.

Gillibrand on Sunday joined a steadily growing field of presidential hopefuls seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination. Others in the race include Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).