Kirsten Gillibrand Defends Response to Sexual Harassment Claim: We Did a ‘Professional and Thorough Investigation’
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand defended her office’s actions on Monday after a former aide came forward saying that she resigned in protest after Gillibrand’s office’s handling of her sexual harassment complaint.
Politico reported on the staffer’s story. The woman was granted anonymity in the interview because she said she feared damage to her future job prospects.
In July, the female staffer alleged one of Gillibrand’s closest aides — who was a decade her senior and married — repeatedly made unwelcome advances after the senator had told him he would be promoted to a supervisory role over her. She also said the male aide regularly made crude, misogynistic remarks in the office about his female colleagues and potential female hires.
Less than three weeks after reporting the alleged harassment and subsequently claiming that the man retaliated against her for doing so, the woman told chief of staff Jess Fassler that she was resigning because of the office’s handling of the matter. She did not have another job lined up.
Politico also reported the staffer sent a letter to Gillibrand claiming, “Your office chose to go against your public belief that women shouldn’t accept sexual harassment in any form and portrayed my experience as a misinterpretation instead of what it actually was: harassment and ultimately, intimidation.”
Gillibrand’s office did not respond to the letter.
CNN Congressional Correspondent Sunlen Serfaty reported on the air Monday night that she spoke to the Senator.
Gillibrand’s “refusing to admit any mistakes,” Serfaty said. “And that’s important here because there were, indeed, some mistakes made along the way.”
CNN then played a clip of Gillibrand talking about the sexual harassment claims.
“We investigated claims of sexual harassment and derogatory comments,” Gillibrand said. “We interviewed all current employees that had relevant information. We were able to substantiate derogatory comments and did not able to substantiate the sexual harassment, the sexual harassment claims did not rise to the level of sexual harassment.”
Gillibrand continued on: “I told this employee at the time that she was loved, that we loved her. I deeply valued her, which is why we took her allegations immediately, investigated them immediately, and did a professional and thorough investigation.”
According to Politico, the staffer who was accused has since been fired, although he was not at the time.
Gillibrand has been one of the most outspoken Senators on the #MeToo movement and as Wolf Blitzer pointed out Monday night, the development has proven “awkward” for the 2020 hopeful.
Watch above, via CNN.
[image via screengrab]
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