Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee gave up a subcommittee chairman’s post and appears to have been ousted as chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation after she was accused of retaliating against an employee who said a foundation supervisor raped her.
The Texas congresswoman had been in line to be chair of the Judiciary Committee’s crime, terrorism and homeland security subcommittee, but is out now amid concerns her situation would derail important work on the Violence Against Women Act.
Despite being the third-ranking Democrat on the committee, she was excluded from all of the subcommittee chairs.
Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said Ms. Jackson Lee made a decision to “voluntarily and temporarily step back.”
“This decision does not suggest any culpability by Rep. Jackson Lee,” said Mr. Nadler, New York Democrat. He said Rep. Karen Bass would serve as chairwoman “until the matter is resolved and Rep. Jackson Lee can resume the role of chair.”
The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence said Tuesday that while Ms. Jackson Lee had been a “strong ally” in the past, it “unequivocally supports Jane Doe” in her legal battle with the congresswoman.
In addition to her committee post, several outlets also reported the congresswoman, under pressure, will step down from the CBCF, which is the nonprofit arm of the Congressional Black Caucus, the symbolically powerful group of black lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
The moves came a week after a woman, identified only as “Jane Doe” in her lawsuit, said she was raped by a CBCF employee in 2015, when she was a 19-year-old intern and her attacker was the 30-year-old coordinator of the CBCF’s intern program.
Her lawsuit contained gruesome details and suggested a police investigation ensued, including taking the alleged attacker’s DNA, though it does not appear a prosecution took place.
Ms. Jackson Lee was not chair of the CBCF at the time the woman says the rape occurred, but became chair in 2017.
The Jane Doe plaintiff was also hired in Ms. Jackson Lee’s office in late 2017, and at some point last year told the congresswoman’s chief of staff that she planned to pursue legal action against the CBCF for the trauma she suffered.
The woman says she was soon fired from Ms. Jackson Lee’s office, and says the budget and work performance explanations given don’t jibe with the facts. She says she believes the firing was retaliation.
Ms. Jackson Lee’s office last week denied the wrongful termination and said it was not involved in the events the Jane Doe plaintiff described from 2015.
Her office did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Times on Wednesday.
But in a statement quoted by The Houston Chronicle, her office said it denied the allegations but “only want the best” for the Jane Doe victim.
“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,” the statement said.