Speier: Congressional reporting system for sexual harassment 'set up to protect the harasser'

Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierJimmy and Rosalynn Carter celebrate 75th anniversary, longest-married presidential couple Military braces for sea change on justice reform House panel plans mid-July consideration of military justice overhaul MORE (D-Calif.) said Sunday that the existing reporting system for sexual harassment complaints on Capitol Hill is set up “to protect the harasser.” 

“I think it was a system set up in 1995 to protect the harasser. This is not a victim-friendly process,” Speier said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“One victim who I spoke with said, ‘you know, the process was almost worse than the harassment,’ ” Speier added.

Speier and Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSenators hail 'historic changes' as competing proposals to tackle military sexual assault advance Overnight Defense: Military justice overhaul included in defense bill | Pentagon watchdog to review security of 'nuclear football' | Pentagon carries out first air strike in Somalia under Biden Duckworth, Pressley introduce bill to provide paid family leave for those who experience miscarriage MORE (D-N.Y.) earlier this month introduced legislation that would overhaul policies to report sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.

Under the current system through the Office of Compliance, staffers must go through months of mediation and counseling with the employing office before they can file a harassment complaint. During the mediation process, the parties involved sign an agreement to keep all documents and communications confidential.

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Speier and Gillibrand are proposing to make the counseling and mediation optional and set a deadline for filing a complaint to 180 days after the alleged violation. 

Sexual harassment has been at the forefront of discussion on Capitol Hill in recent weeks. Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R), Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenAl Franken to launch 15-stop comedy tour Democrats, GOP face crowded primaries as party leaders lose control Gillibrand: 'I definitely want to run for president again' MORE (D-Minn.) and Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersThe faith community can help pass a reparations bill California comes to terms with the costs and consequences of slavery Democrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote MORE Jr. (D-Mich.) have all faced allegations of sexual misconduct.

Speier helped bring issues of sexual harassment to light earlier this month when she shared a story of a chief of staff forcibly kissing her when she was a Congressional staffer.

She later told a panel that she knows of at least two current members of Congress who "have engaged in sexual harassment."