*It’s a wrap for longtime congressman John Conyers Jr.
Amid a swirl of sexual harassment claims over the past several weeks, the Democrat from Michigan announced this morning that he will resign from the seat he’s held for more than five decades, a swift and crushing fall from grace for a civil rights icon and the longest-serving active member of Congress.
Saying he was finalizing his plans for retirement, Conyers added he would endorse his son, John Conyers III, to replace him Congress.
“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now. This too shall pass. … My legacy will continue through my children,” Conyers told Mildred Gaddis on her Detroit radio show. (Watch the announcement in the video above.)
As for the accusations against him, Conyers said, “They’re not accurate, they’re not true and they’re something I can’t explain where they came from.”
Via USA Today:
Conyers, 88, resigned two weeks after an article on BuzzFeed.com detailed a secret settlement of more than $27,000 with a former staffer who accused him of making sexual advances toward her and paying her out of funds from his taxpayer-supported office.
By Thanksgiving, several other women had come forward with accusations against Conyers, who, despite his express denials that he harassed anyone, saw House leaders and members of his own party abandon him, with three of the four Democrats in the Michigan delegation call for him to resign last Thursday.
In addition to Marion Brown, the staffer who received the settlement, at least six other women claimed they either experienced or saw him touching and rubbing women in his office, making sexual advances toward them or making inappropriate remarks. The most recent, Elisa Grubbs, made accusations against Conyers on Monday night, saying in a statement that Conyers put his hand up her skirt at a church, among other allegations.
Among the others, one filed a lawsuit against him early this year and then withdrew it, saying she didn’t want to hurt Conyers’ reputation. Another woman, Washington lawyer Melanie Sloan, also told the Free Press last month that Conyers had verbally mistreated her, forced her to babysit his children and, on one occasion, showed up at a meeting with her at his office in his underwear —though she didn’t consider it sexual harassment.
Lisa Bloom, an attorney representing Brown and who put out Grubbs’ public statement on Monday, said Conyers’ decision changes nothing as far as she is concerned.
“We will continue to push for a full, open Ethics Committee hearing so that Marion Brown’s important and disturbing sexual harassment story, her corroborating witnesses, and the several other sexual harassment accusers may be heard,” she said Tuesday morning.