Sheila Jackson Lee Resigns From Key Posts Over Sexual Assault Scandal
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Texas) resigned from her key posts Wednesday after serious allegations resulted in a lawsuit by a former staff member.
Jackson Lee resigned as the head of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF). She had been asked by the CBCF board of directors to step down, but refused to do so, Politico reported last week.
The congresswoman also resigned her influential chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. She vacated her seat on the Judiciary committee as well.
Jackson Lee was sued last week by a former CBCF intern. The woman, referred to in court as Jane Doe, filed a lawsuit earlier this month claiming she was fired by Jackson Lee as retaliation for planned legal action related to an alleged 2015 rape by a supervisor.
Doe claims she was raped by former CBCF intern coordinator Damien Jones and his roommate after being drugged.
The Root explains:
“The ex-staffer, identified as Jane Doe in the suit, alleged a 30-year-old supervisor assaulted her in 2015. Doe, a 19-year-old Howard undergrad at the time of the assault, alleges her male supervisor forced her to perform oral sex at his home before she woke up naked and in pain the next day.
Doe met Glenn Rushing, Jackson Lee’s chief of staff, at a networking event two years after the alleged assault, as a recent college graduate.
Determined to make a name for herself in national politics, she was hired as a special assistant and director of public engagement.
After learning of her alleged assailant’s desire to work with Jackson Lee, Doe told Rushing “that she had a “prior situation’ with (him) and was not comfortable working with him.” Rushing told her she would not hire him.
Doe, who is seeking damages of $75,000, was fired on March 29th of last year. According to the suit, she was told she would be let go “because of budgetary issues.” Struggling with anxiety and depression since her assault, her conditioned worsened.”
Doe claims that Jackson Lee had received a text message from the CBCF’s chief executive at the time, A. Shaunise Washington:
“I just received a notification that you have a new staffer,” Washington allegedly messaged Jackson Lee, mentioning Doe’s name. “Call me, I have background on her.”
Doe says she was fired roughly two weeks after she told Jackson’s chief of staff, Glenn Rushing, that she had “recently learned more about her case involving Mr. Jones and CBCF, and planned to move forward with legal action” against the foundation.
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Doe claims that although Rushing had told her she was being let go because of “budgetary issues” Jackson Lee had recently hired at least two new employees who made “at least the same salary” as her. She also claims two more employees were hired shortly after she was fired, while another staffer received a raise.
The move comes one day after the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence had stated that it could not support making Jackson Lee the lead sponsor of legislation reauthorizing the federal Violence Against Women Act.
“We begin and end all of our work with supporting survivors and support Jane Doe and many others who have been unsupported in their attempts to speak out,” the group’s statement said.