A lawyer for Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said late Wednesday that his client does not intend to quit Congress amid multiple sexual harassment allegations.
In a statement, Arnold Reed said that Conyers "will not be forced out of office based on the agenda of others" and claimed that "[i]f people were required to resign over allegations, a lot of people would be out of work in this country including, many members of the house[sic], senate[sic], and even the president."
The 88-year-old Conyers is the subject of an investigation by the House Ethics Committee after BuzzFeed reported Monday that his office paid a woman more than $27,000 under a confidentiality agreement to settle a complaint in 2015 that she was fired from his Washington staff because she rejected his sexual advances.
BuzzFeed has also published affidavits from former staff members who said they had witnessed Conyers touching female staffers inappropriately — rubbing their legs and backs — or requesting sexual favors. One former staffer said one of her duties was "to keep a list of women that I assumed he was having affairs with and call them at his request and, if necessary, have them flown in using Congressional resources."
Conyers initially denied making the settlement agreement, but his office later acknowledged its existence while denying the original allegations. In a statement, Conyers said, "My office resolved the allegations — with an express denial of liability — in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation."
The Associated Press, citing court documents, reported that that another ex-staffer attempted to file a federal lawsuit in Washington alleging sexual harassment, retaliation and a hostile work environment.
The woman claimed in the proposed filing from February that Conyers began making sexual advances and inappropriate comments shortly after she was hired in 2015. She also said Conyers blew kisses when "others' backs were turned" and would "rub her shoulders, kiss her forehead and attempt to hold her hand."
The woman wanted to file a lawsuit under seal to avoid embarrassing Conyers, but a judge denied the request. No further action has been taken since March.
Conyers' office said in an email Tuesday night to the AP that "the former staffer voluntarily decided to drop the case."
In an editorial Wednesday, the Detroit Free Press demanded that Conyers step down, calling his actions "a public betrayal" and "the kind of behavior that can never be tolerated in a public official, much less an elected representative of the people."
Fox News' Jason Donner and The Associated Press contributed to this report.