Congressman saw aide as 'soul mate,' but denies misconduct




FILE - In this March 20, 2013 file photo, Rep.
FILE - In this March 20, 2013 file photo, Rep.  

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A Republican congressman from Pennsylvania who settled a former aide's sexual harassment complaint with taxpayer money said Tuesday that he developed a deep affection for her and reacted badly when she began dating another man, but never harassed her or pursued a romantic relationship.

Rep. Pat Meehan said Tuesday that he intends to run for re-election in his suburban Philadelphia district and maintained that he did nothing wrong.

The four-term congressman, who is 62 and married, told the Philadelphia Inquirer he once told the woman he saw her as a "soul mate" and reacted "selfishly" when he discovered the decades-younger woman was in a serious relationship with another man.

The complaint by the former aide came to light Saturday in a New York Times report that cited unnamed people.

The settlement had been kept secret, and Meehan's office has declined to answer repeated questions about how much taxpayer money Meehan paid out in it. The accuser's lawyer, Alexis Ronickher, has called the allegations "well-grounded" and a "serious sexual harassment claim."

The revelation comes amid a national reckoning over sexual misconduct in the workplace. Four members of Congress have either resigned or said they won't run again amid complaints from women about sexual misconduct.

The former aide made the complaint last summer to the congressional Office of Compliance after Meehan became hostile toward her when she did not reciprocate his romantic interest, and she left the job, the Times reported.

The Times did not identify the accuser and said she did not speak to the newspaper.

On Saturday, House Speaker Paul Ryan called for an Ethics Committee investigation and Meehan's removal from the committee. He also told Meehan to repay the money, his office said.

Meehan said he would repay the public money if the House Ethics Committee concludes that he harassed her. He called the payment a "severance," not a "settlement," and has said he followed the advice of House lawyers and Ethics Committee guidance.

Meehan said he "developed an affection" for the woman and acknowledged that he lashed out in his office when he was told of her relationship with another man. He attributed it to a tense period around House votes on health care legislation.

To express his feelings, he invited the woman out for ice cream, where Meehan told her he saw her as a "soul mate" after years of working closely together, the Inquirer reported. They hugged, he said, "maybe longer that night than needed to be."

Later that night in May, he penned a hand-written letter, which Meehan shared with reporters. In it, he wished her well, and thanked God "for putting you into my life and for all that we have seen and experienced and genuinely shared together."

She texted him the next day thanking him "for your very kind words and for your friendship," according to texts shared with reporters.

Meehan said he never sought a romantic or sexual relationship and has remained loyal to his wife.

"I did not seek a relationship. What I did was try to communicate that I was struggling with the idea that I might if I ... wasn't able to keep things in the proper perspective," Meehan told the Inquirer.

After the Times published its story, Meehan pushed to dissolve the confidentiality provisions in the agreement "to ensure a full and open airing of all the facts."

Ronickher rejected that, calling it a "dirty political maneuver" by Meehan that violated the agreement's confidentiality terms and would victimize her client again by revealing the woman's identity publicly.

Ronickher also said Meehan had demanded confidentiality to settle the complaint.

___

This story has been corrected to show that Meehan invited the women out for ice cream, not the other way around.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Les Moonves Wants His $120 Million Severance and He
Les Moonves Wants His $120 Million Severance and He's Going to Fight CBS for It

Former CBS Corp. Chief Executive Officer Les Moonves is demanding arbitration over the broadcaster's decision to withhold his $120 million severance following allegations of sexual misconduct. Moonves notified CBS that he is demanding binding arbitration, according to a company filing Thursday. In December, the media giant concluded there were grounds to fire Moonves, 69, for cause and said its former CEO wouldn't be entitled to any severance payments.

Les Moonves to Pursue Arbitration for $120 Million Severance Denied by CBS
Les Moonves to Pursue Arbitration for $120 Million Severance Denied by CBS

Former CBS chief Les Moonves will be pursuing arbitration to fight CBS for the $120 million severance pay he was denied last month when he was fired by the board of directors for cause. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Thursday, CBS stated that Moonves has informed the company of his plan: "On January 16, 2019, Mr. Moonves notified the Company of his election to demand binding arbitration with respect to this matter. The Company does not intend to comment further on this matter during the pendency of the arbitration proceedings." The investigation into Moonves concluded Dec. 17, with the CBS board announcing at that time the former chairman and CEO "will not receive any...

The lone Democrat who voted against denouncing Rep. Steve King sees censure effort fizzle
The lone Democrat who voted against denouncing Rep. Steve King sees censure effort fizzle

The lone lawmaker who prevented the House of Representatives from unanimously denouncing Rep. Steve King, due to worries that the measure didn't go far enough, saw his censure effort against the Iowa Republican fizzle on Wednesday.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.