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A Member of Congress Exposed Himself to a Staffer, Lawmakers Say

14 November 2017

"Sexual harassment is about power, not just sex", she said.

The hearing comes as the national spotlight on workplace sexual misconduct turns to Capitol Hill.

The committee is holding a hearing Tuesday on preventing sexual harassment in the Congressional workplace, where Speier is serving as one the witnesses.

The congressman asked the staffer to deliver materials to his residence, Comstock said.

"But that kind of situation - what are we doing here for women right now who are dealing with somebody like that?"

Comstock argued that there should be stronger punishments for perpetrators and a safer environment for victims to come out of "the shadows".

Though neither woman named any of those accused of sexual harassment, Comstock made clear that she isn't opposed to it, saying, "I think it's important we name names".

On Tuesday, the House Administration Committee held a hearing on how to prevent sexual harassment in Congress. House lawmakers went beyond simply extolling the importance of mandatory sexual harassment training - they also brought to light a handful of allegations concerning sitting members of Congress, including that there are now two sitting members of Congress who have sexually harassed female staffers with no repercussions.

On Nov. 3, former GOP Rep. Mary Bono of California disclosed that she had been sexually harassed by a male colleague in Congress for years before confronting him.

"Congress has been a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long", she said.

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The congresswoman also said she had heard of victims "having their private parts grabbed on the House floor". "They want the system fixed and the perpetrators held accountable".

But Republicans and Democrats alike say this step is not enough, and are demanding reforms to Congress' process for reporting sexual harassment and assault-a process lawmakers say is "broken", "from the Dark Ages", and discourages victims from coming forward. She noted that the current system requires accusers to sign non-disclosure agreements before mediation sessions, as well as a 30-day cooling off period in which the accuser is still required to work in the same office. "It is not appropriate for the 21st century".

None of the three female lawmakers accused any of their colleagues by name of sexual harassment.

Speier last month shared her own story of harassment when she was working as a congressional staffer when a chief of staff made unwanted physical contact with her.

Sanchez declined to name the lawmaker when asked about the incident on Tuesday.

"People [are] using their power without any self-control", a former House staffer told CNN.

"There are a lot of tales of these guys going out and behaving very badly with younger staffers", said a former House staffer.

The hearing comes in the wake of a slew of high-profile sexual harassment and assault allegations against both politicians and celebrities, and was meant to allow members of Congress to review their own internal policies and training on sexual harassment.

The Senate passed a resolution last week to require sexual harassment training for members and staff. Kirsten Gillibrand is also sponsoring a bill that would simplify the process of reporting sexual misconduct to the Office of Compliance.

A Member of Congress Exposed Himself to a Staffer, Lawmakers Say