A Holland woman who says she was sexually harassed and touched by Congressman John Conyers said she didn't tell anyone because she needed her job.
“I didn’t report those incidents. I did not,” says Deanna Maher, 77. “I felt I could handle it, and I needed the job.”
Maher says she worked for Conyers in Detroit, from 1997 until 2005.She remembers three incidents.
On was in a Washington Hotel Suite in 1997.
“He walked into the bedroom where I was,” she remembers. “He sat there taking his clothes off down to his skivvies. I got up and got a suit coat on and I’m in bed shaking I was so scared. He just stormed out the door and slammed it.”
She says the second incident was a year later in 1998 during a drive to Detroit Metro Airport.
“He was driving and he was feeling me and I was pushing his hand away,” she says. “He was trying to feel me in the passenger seat while he was driving with one hand. The worst part is he was driving all over Interstate 75 and he was stopped by a trooper. And I was thinking ‘Thank God.’”
She says there was one more inappropriate incident during a town hall meeting in 1999.
“He bent down to give me a message in my left ear and he put his hand up my dress,” she explained. “I was in a state of shock. After that I think he got the idea. Don’t touch me.”
Maher says she retired in 2015, and there were no more incidents with Representative Conyers.
“I got out of it relatively unscathed,” she says. “But there are so many I left behind. I feel or them. I felt dirty and ashamed. I hope other staff members will never have to endure this kind of environment.”
Congressman Conyers denies ever sexually harassing anyone, but admits he paid a former staffer $27,000 to settle a complaint in 2015. He said it was “severance pay.” The 88-year-old Democrat from Detroit was first elected to congress in 1964, He has been in office longer than any other U.S. Representative currently serving.
Deanna Maher says he should resign.
“I don’t think other members of congress treated their staff members as badly as Congressman Conyers treats his,” she says “He has enjoyed such a position of power and that is why he is not accountable.”
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