Rep. Alcee Hastings sued for sexual harassment

By David Edwards
Monday, March 7, 2011 17:00 EDT
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A conservative watchdog group filed a sexual harassment lawsuit Monday against against Rep. Alcee Hasting (D-FL).

Judicial Watch filed the suit in federal court on behalf of Winsome Packer, who formerly had worked for the congressman.

The harassment allegedly occurred between 2008 and 2010 when the two were working together on the U.S. Commission on Cooperation and Security in Europe.

The commission, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is named as a co-defendant in the suit. Hastings was serving as co-chair of the commission at the time in question.

Packer was repeatedly subjected to “unwelcome sexual advances,” “unwelcome touching” and retaliation, according to Judicial Watch.

“Ms. Packer was particularly vulnerable to such threats because she was a Republican working for the Democratically-controlled Commission, a point that both Mr. Hastings and Mr. Turner used to threaten and intimidate her,” the suit claims. “Eventually, the emotional distress, anxiety, and humiliation caused by the sexual harassment and retaliation caused Ms. Packer to suffer severe health problems and forced her to leave her prestigious position.”

“Mr. Hastings’ intention was crystal clear: he was sexually attracted to Ms. Packer, wanted a sexual relationship with her, and would help progress her career if she acquiesced to his sexual advances.”

For his part, Hastings denied the harassment charges.

“I have never sexually harassed anyone,” he said in a statement. “In fact, I am insulted that these ludicrous allegations are being made against me. When all the facts are known in this case, the prevailing sentiment will be, ‘How bizarre!’”

Judicial Watch has a history of filing lawsuits against Democratic lawmakers. In 1994, the group filed 18 lawsuits against President Bill Clinton.

Hastings served as a federal judge from 1979 until 1989, when he was impeached for taking a bribe in exchange for handing down a lighter sentence.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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