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

Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierMueller mystery: Will he ever testify to Congress? The Hill's Morning Report — Dem ire at Barr intensifies Military sexual assaults rise nearly 38 percent in Pentagon survey 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 Elizabeth GillibrandOvernight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — Momentum builds for federal laws enshrining abortion rights | Missouri lawmakers approve bill banning abortions at 8 weeks | Warren unveils plan to protect abortion rights 2020 Dem Seth Moulton calls for expanding cannabis access for veterans Momentum builds behind push to pass laws enshrining abortion rights 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 FrankenHirono electrifies left as Trump antagonist Miss USA pageant winner celebrated for addressing 'Me Too' movement on stage NY man sentenced to prison for racist death threats to Obama, Waters MORE (D-Minn.) and Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersReparations: The 'lost cause' of black politics? Members spar over sexual harassment training deadline Reparations bill wins new momentum in Congress 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."