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Congress Comes Into Scope As Sexual Harassment Accusations Rock America

The last few weeks have seen an unprecedented amount of sexual harassment claims. Most of the accusations are against well known men.

The list includes film directors and other celebrities. Most recent of note is the accusation against George Bush Sr.

It appeared that more women were coming out on a daily basis. The #MeToo campaign which started because Weinstein allegations had gain momentum.

Congress has also come into the limelight. It is reported that many women have been sexually assaulted by Congressmen.

But Congress apparently abides by different laws in such matters.


Briony Whitehouse gave her account from 2003. She was an intern at the time. Whitehouse said that a Republican Senator groped her in an elevator.

She said “At the time, I didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing at all.”

Whitehouse said “because this happened so early on for me, I just assumed this was the way things worked and that I’d have to accept it.”

Congress usually paid out way less than what most victims received. In some cases the matters are thrown out.

When it comes to Congress the laws differ to that of the public.

Rep. Jackie Speier said “it is not a victim-friendly process. It is an institution-protection process.”

“I think we would find that sexual harassment is rampant in the institution. But no one wants to know, because they’d have to do something about it,” she said.

Speier has pushed to change how cases have been handled but to no avail.

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Ally Coll Steele said “I was in the position of having no choice but reacting in a way that was going to make a big deal out of it in front his staff or his wife, or acting like nothing was happening. I chose the latter.”

Steele who is a lawyer talked about having her buttocks grabbed by a Democratic Senator. She was 18 years at the time.

Another lady who wanted to remain anonymous said she was repeatedly groped. She said “he would just grab me. It happened multiple times. The worst part was my other male colleagues would excuse it. He stayed on Capitol Hill for years.”

“There is a sense that going forward with an allegation like this would be completely the end of any career working for anybody on the Hill — and it undoubtedly would be,” Debra Katz.

Debra Katz is an employment attorney in Washington.

“We have no doubt that sexual harassment is under-reported in Congress, just as all workplace infractions are under-reported in Congress,” said Brad Fitch.

Brad Fitch is the President and Chief Executive of the Congressional Management Foundation.

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