Sexual Harassment in the House and Senate? Accusers have a tough path and taxpayers foot the bill

With all of the attention focused on sexual harassment in Hollywood and the accusations facing the GOP’s Alabama senate candidate, Roy Moore, we wondered…

Does sexual harassment happen in the halls of Congress?

We were not alone in our thinking.

The Washington Post also wanted to know the process for filing a complaint against a member of congress or a staffer on Capitol Hill.

Thanks to a set of rules in place since 1995, claiming sexual harassment in congress requires accusers jump through hoops, agree to undergo counseling and mediation.

  • Just filing a complaint requires the accuser to act within 180 days of the alleged date of the offense, sending a written notice of the congressional Office of Compliance.
  • Accessing the form to complete and file the complaint is only accomplished after the accuser calls the Compliance office and asks for an online password.
  • The Compliance office assigns a counselor who will spend up to 30 days discussing the allegations with the accuser.
  • Counseling is followed by another month of “mediation.” The mediation process can end in a confidential settlement or the accuser can choose to push the claim as far as a federal civil court.
  • If a settlement is agreed upon, the accused does not pay for it…taxpayers foot the bill from a secret U.S. Treasury account.

In terms of settlements and payouts from the U.S. Treasury, the Washington Post reports $15.2 million has been paid to 235 accusers. On average, that works out to just under $65,000 per case.

Listen to Mike Opelka rant about this odd set of rules appearing to protect the accused and make it difficult for the accusers to get a hearing.

Follow Mike Opelka on Twitter — @stuntbrain

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