Frederica Wilson Backs Up Democrat Accused Of Sexual Harassment

REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

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Democratic Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson said she believes Florida Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings and not the former congressional staffer who accused Hastings of sexually harassing her.

Congress’ Office of Compliance settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with the former committee staffer, Winsome Packer, for $220,000 after she accused the Democratic congressman of making sexual advances, touching her and threatening her job. The settlement Packer received, which was first reported by Roll Call, was issued in May of 2014.

Rep. Wilson said she supports Hastings in spite of the accusations against him. “I believe him,” she told the Miami Herald.

Another Democratic congresswoman, Florida Rep. Lois Frankel, was dismissive of the claims against Hastings. When asked by the Herald, Frankel deferred to the House Ethics Committee, which cleared Hastings of sexual harassment in 2014.

“Here’s the thing, it went through [the ethics committee], and they didn’t find against him,” Frankel said. “He went through a process and I think the process speaks for itself. Unless something else comes out, he’s already gone through the process. The voters are aware of it, they elected him, it went through Ethics, I don’t know what else to do.”

Hastings has repeatedly claimed to have had no knowledge of the settlement after the fact.

“At no time was I consulted, nor did I know until after the fact that such a settlement was made,” Hastings told Roll Call. “I am outraged that any taxpayer dollars were needlessly paid to Ms. Packer.”

“I have no objection, personally, for all of the information having to do with this matter to be made public,” he told the Herald on Tuesday. “But I cannot in bits and pieces explain all of the nuances. I knew there was a settlement. I had no knowledge of the terms of the settlement, none, zero.”