WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, member of the House Judiciary Committee, released the following statement in response to allegations of sexual misconduct against Rep. John Conyers:
“This is a watershed moment where, finally, the country seems to be waking up and realizing we need to have a zero tolerance policy toward sexual harassment. We cannot pick and choose. Democrats cannot lambaste Trump and Moore, and then turn a blind eye to our own who face credible charges against them.
“No one ever wants to believe that someone they respect and have regarded as a champion for civil rights issues would abuse their power to harm and harass women. On top of that, sexism colors everything. Women just aren’t generally believed. Period. Even more complicated is that sexual harassment is extremely difficult to prove in any court of law. That means that efforts to stop harassment must recognize that there will be gray areas. Women will come forward and men will deny. The question is: What is society’s response? To truly change norms and cultures, we need to start believing women from the get-go.
“Our country and these individual women have been failed by a congressional sexual harassment complaint and investigation system that silences women and leads men to believe that they can get away with this behavior. That must change.
“The actions and subsequent deflections from the growing tide of sexual harassment cases in Congress not only hurt individual women, but they undermine our institution of democracy. For justice to be done in cases with substantial evidence, a simple denial is not sufficient; the relinquishment of power becomes essential. It is not easy for me to reach this conclusion because, as a civil rights activist, I have looked up to Rep. Conyers for decades. I believe these women, I see the pattern and there is only one conclusion – Mr. Conyers must resign.”