U.S. Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-Houston) announced she will resign from her position as the head of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation amid allegations she fired a staffer who accused a CBC aide of sexual assault.
According to reports, Jackson Lee informed CBC members this past weekend she intended to resign her post within the group’s nonprofit after initially resisting pressure from the board to do so.
Jackson Lee also announced she will step down as the chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on criminal justice.
A 13-term incumbent lawmaker, Jackson Lee was named in a lawsuit last week alleging she unlawfully fired a woman who planned to pursue legal action against a former employee of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation for sexual assault.
In the suit, the woman (identified as Jane Doe) alleges that while she interned for the organization in 2015 she was drugged and subsequently raped by Damien Jones, the CBCF’s intern coordinator who also served as Beto O’Rourke’s political director in his campaign against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. According to the lawsuit Doe reported the crime to police but did not pursue legal action at that time.
According to Buzzfeed News, a CBCF spokesperson confirmed “that the foundation investigated the woman’s allegations and fired the intern coordinator.”
Doe later worked as a staffer in Jackson Lee’s office when the Congresswoman was floating the idea of hiring the alleged perpetrator. Doe then spoke with Jackson Lee’s chief of staff to voice her concerns and express she now planned on pursuing legal action.
Two weeks later, she was fired.
In the now-filed lawsuit, Doe alleges Jackson Lee spoke with the CBC and decided to fire her rather than handle the allegations. Jackson Lee’s office denied the allegations.
“Although the Congresswoman is eager to respond substantively, she will do so only at the appropriate time, as the court docket dictates. The Congresswoman is confident that, once all of the facts come to light, her Office will be exonerated of any retaliatory or otherwise improper conduct and this matter will be put to rest,” Jackson Lee’s office said. “While we still deny the allegations, we are especially concerned about Ms. Doe and only want the best for her and the many, many young people that the Congressional office has supported, encouraged, and provided opportunities for over 20 years.”
Jackson Lee’s office did not respond to requests for comment as to why she left her posts.