Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Florida) has asked a federal court to dismiss a sexual harassment lawsuit being brought against him by an aide who worked for him when he chaired the Helsinki Commission, an advisory board that provides guidance and monitors U.S. policy on national security, human rights and other issues in Europe. The Black lawmaker said that the case should be handled by congressionally approved administrative remedies, the Associated press reports. A congressional ethics panel is investigating the allegations.
Winsome Packer, who, along with the watchdog group Judicial Watch, filed the suit in March, has alleged that the Black lawmaker repeatedly made “unwelcome sexual advances” and was too touchy-feely during the period she worked for the commission from 2008-2010. In addition, Packer said that Hastings requested on several occasions to stay at her apartment and also tried to get her to visit him in his hotel room in Vienna, Austria, when he was in Europe to conduct business for the commission.
The commission and commission official Fred Turner, who Packer says retaliated against her when she made her claims, also are named in the suit. The organization also filed a document with the court Saturday in which it disputes Packer’s allegations, and said that when Hastings hugged her or asked to see her apartment, it was because of his “general benevolence toward staff.”
According to the AP, Hastings, who has denied the harassment charges from the start, said in his 42-page filing that his accuser’s real motive is to gain public attention so she can boost sales of a political novel she’s written about race, culture and sexual harassment.