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We need to “look at who is getting a pass” in sexual abuse investigations, columnist says

Nov 30, 2017

Congressman John Conyers is in a Detroit hospital today.

A spokesman says the 88-year-old is under "tremendous stress" from the accusations of sexual harassment leveled against him.

Earlier today, House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Congressman Jim Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American Democrat in Congress, all called on Conyers to resign.

Also calling for Conyers' resignation are Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, Congressman Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, and Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township.

One of Conyers' accusers, Marion Brown, spoke publicly this morning on NBC’s Today show about an incident in a Chicago hotel room in 2005 and a settlement she reached with the Detroit congressman in 2015.

Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press columnist, joined Stateside to talk about how to consider the allegations.

Listen above for the full conversation, or read highlights below.

On how to consider legacy

“I’m not thinking about his legacy right now. What I’m doing is listening to women who we have now learned are part of a plethora of women who have lived in hell across the country, from Hollywood to Washington, who have been silenced either because they needed careers to be able to feed themselves and their families, or they wanted careers and thought they would not have any because powerful men would keep them from having them.”

“The mistake that Nancy Pelosi made that was just roundly criticized on Meet the Press last weekend was calling him an icon and talking about him being a civil rights lion while we’re talking about this. All of that legacy needs to be put aside, put over here away from what’s happening with this. This needs to be just about the allegations and just about the secret deals to keep people quiet, which may not just apply to John Conyers. There needs to be a thorough investigation of that and every allegation, and those things, which are serious unto themselves, have to be treated seriously without any discussion about whether anyone has contributed to society, to government, or to the American people.”

On what needs to happen next

“I think that Congress is not doing enough to look at all of these. I think that they should release every single agreement that everyone has ever made to pay someone about an allegation, I think every allegation should be investigated, and I think, for anybody who broke the law, they should go to jail.”

“It’s time for these situations to go to authorities so they can be investigated if they’re criminal acts. It’s time for people to file civil suits if they can prove what happened to them. It’s time to move past the discussion phase and to create some type of accountability and punishment to make sure that this doesn’t continue to happen.”

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