Facing multiple accusations of sexual harassment, John Conyers — the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives — stepped down Tuesday.
Conyers announced he will not run for a 28th term in Congress next year and that he was retiring immediately, citing his health, and not the growing list of women who have come forward with claims of sexual misconduct.
The civil rights leader told Mildred Gaddis, a Detroit-based radio host, that he is endorsing his son, John Conyers III, to replace him in Congress.
“I am retiring today,” the 88-year-old said. “My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now. This, too, shall pass.”
The Michigan Democrat’s decision comes after it was reported last month that Conyers’ office paid a former aide more than $ 27,000 to settle a wrongful dismissal complaint.
Conyers has denied the claims, saying he hasn’t harassed anyone and that the payment to former staffer Marion Brown was a severance payment, not an admission he did anything wrong.
“I am in the process of putting my retirement plans together,” Conyers said.
“It’s obvious to me that Rep. Conyers is ‘retiring’ because of the courage of the sexual harassment accusers who have spoken out against him, including my client, Marion Brown, who went through the process in 2014 — an excruciating, slow, silencing process — and then had the courage to speak out against him last week,” Brown’s attorney, Lisa Bloom, told the Daily News. “And we have been gathering affidavits of other women who were sexually harassed by him, and we were in the process of releasing those, including one yesterday.
Another former staffer came forward last week to accuse Conyers of groping her and making other unwanted advances. A third spoke out on Monday, saying that the congressman groped her during a church service.
A defiant Conyers refused to address the allegations on Tuesday.
“We take this in stride,” he said. “Look, this goes with the issue of politics, the game of politics, which we’re in.”
The House Ethics Committee is investigating the allegations, a probe that will likely continue.
The veteran lawmaker is endorsing his son, John Conyers III (pictured), to replace him in Congress.
The lawmaker, first elected to the House in 1964, stepped aside as the top Democrat on the House judiciary committee and was hospitalized last week amid the crush of accusations.
He is a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Conyers has stood his ground against the allegations as several of his colleagues called for him to resign.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the allegations against him “serious, disappointing and very credible.”
Conyers’ fall comes as several high-profile lawmakers and other powerful men in media and other industries have been outed as accused sexual predators in recent months.
Politicians accused of sexual harassment or assault
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), has been accused of groping four women. Franken, 66, has publicly apologized.
GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore is facing several accusations of seeking sexual relationships with teens when he was in his 30s.
Conyers did not address allegations against any other lawmakers.
“We take what happens and we deal with it. We pass on, and we move on, trying to make as much as we can of this tremendous opportunity that’s been given to me,” he said.