Lawmakers: Reporting sexual assault at the US Capitol difficult

WASHINGTON (NEWS10) – A group of lawmakers says sexual harassment on Capitol Hill is prevalent and the system works to protect abusers, not victims.

California Congresswoman Jackie Speier says it is difficult for anyone who works at the Capitol to report sexual harassment.

Today we are here to change that.  Abusers and sexual predators have thrived in the shadows in our current system,” Rep. Speier (D- 14) said.

Rep. Speier is working with members of both parties in the House and Senate to overhaul the Congressional Office of Compliance.

Lawmakers who support the “Me Too Act” say the current reporting system is stacked against victims.

Forcing them to sign non-disclosure agreements, and agree to mandatory mediation and counseling.

“So for all intents and purposes a staffer in the Capitol is powerless and gagged,” Rep. Speier said.

“It’s very confusing to staffers,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said. “It’s very confusing to navigate and is tilted against victims. And so that’s what our bill will do, it will fix it.

Right now when settlements are reached, they’re paid for with taxpayer’s money.  The Me Too Act would require lawmakers to repay the U.S. Treasury out of their own pockets.

Congresswoman Speier also cosponsored the Cease Act which requires annual sexual harassment training in the House of Representatives.  After a house hearing on the topic Tuesday, Speaker Paul Ryan said he would require sexual harassment training for House members and staff.

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