U.S. Markets open in 2 hrs 11 mins

Congresswoman Says Former Congressman Tried To Force Himself On Her In Elevator

Alanna Vagianos
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) on Monday accused a former congressman of assaulting her while they were both serving in the House.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) on Monday accused a former congressman of assaulting her while they were both serving in the House. 

In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press Daily,” DeGette said that former Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) at one point tried to pin her in an elevator and forcibly kiss her. 

“Some years ago, I was in an elevator and then-Congressman Bob Filner tried to pin me to the door of the elevator and kiss me. And I pushed him away,” DeGette said. “I mean, I was his colleague. He couldn’t take action against me. And believe you me, I never got in an elevator with him again.”

Filner served in Congress from 1993 to 2012, and in December 2012 became the mayor of San Diego. The following August, he resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment and assault from more than a dozen women. He ultimately pleaded guilty to felony false imprisonment and two misdemeanor counts of battery. In December 2013, he was sentenced to three years probation and three months of home confinement. 

Filner denied DeGette’s accusations, telling The Associated Press that “it never happened.”

DeGette is one of many lawmakers to come forward in recent weeks with allegations of harassment or assault on Capitol Hill. 

Earlier this month, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said she knew of two current members of Congress ― one Democrat and one Republican ― who had sexually harassed staffers. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) also said she’d heard rumors of a current congressman who had exposed himself to a young female staffer. Former Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) told The Associated Press that a congressman who is still serving once approached her on the House floor and said he thought about what it would be like to see her shower. 

DeGette is the first lawmaker to name her alleged attacker. 

Speier and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation last week to improve the sexual harassment reporting process for lawmakers and staffers. The system to report harassment on Capitol Hill is a very convoluted process, which Speier has said is “not a victim-friendly process.” 

DeGette urged female lawmakers who have experienced sexual harassment to name their attackers, especially if they’re still serving in Congress.

“When these advances happen, they’re brushed under the rug,” she said. “But if there are people who are sexual predators in Congress right now, we need to know who they are.”

Former Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), who was in office from 2008 to 2017, told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday that a former congressman from California who went on to become San Diego’s mayor ― a reference to Filner ― behaved inappropriately toward her while she was a member of Congress. Watch a clip of the interview below.  

This article has been updated with Edwards’ comments and Filner’s response to DeGette’s allegations. 

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.