Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) accuser Deanna Maher described to Fox News how the congressman made the office a "toxic sexually suggestive environment" in an exclusive interview Wednesday night. Maher, who was in her late 50s at the time she worked for Conyers from 1997-2005, claims that the congressman showed up to her hotel one day not fully clothed.
That kind of inappropriate behavior, she said, had a malignant influence on other male staffers in his office. Even more egregiously, Maher claims that Conyers used his position on the House Judiciary Committee to sweep the sexual misconduct under the rug.
She said that, one day in the Congressional Office Building in Washington, a Conyers staffer pressed her against a wall and stuck his tongue down her throat.
"No, it wasn't rape, but for some guy who was a staffer [to do that] I felt ashamed, I felt dirty [and] I couldn't get any help... afterward because Congressman Conyers covered that up," she said.
His judiciary committee clout, she added, meant that all he had to do to destroy somebody's life was "pick up a phone."
Conyers, who was found to have paid a settlement a few years ago to avoid going to court with one of his accusers, has since stepped down as the committee's ranking member, but has said he is not going to resign from Congress. Some, like one of his own colleagues Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), are demanding he change his mind.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has done little to condemn or even address Conyers's alleged actions. He's an "icon," she told the media. Rice was so frustrated by Democrats looking the other way that she stormed out of Wednesday's conference meeting.
Thankfully, first steps are being taken to combat the rampant sexualized culture on the hill. Congress voted to pass bipartisan legislation that requires lawmakers to partake in anti-harassment training.
Conyers was hospitalized Thursday in Detroit due to what family members are calling a stress-related illness.