Sexual harassment complaint against Jack Latvala released - Florida Politics

Sexual harassment complaint against Jack Latvala released

There were the unwelcome sexual comments about her clothes, breasts and legs. And there was the time that he ‘assaulted’ her in a state Capitol elevator, brushing the lower half of her breast and later, his hand attempting to reach her vagina, she said.

In the three-page sexual harassment complaint filed with the Senate Rules Chair earlier this month, and released by POLITICO Florida, Rachel Perrin Rogers cited a list of six grievances from her interactions with Sen. Jack Latvala that stretch back four years.

The release comes at a time when one of Latvala’s attorneys, Steve Andrews, says there is a sense of “urgency” to wrap up the Senate investigation into the allegations. He says it could come as soon as next week.

Perrin Rogers, a 35-year-old legislative aide to Republican Sen. Wilton Simpson, publicly accused Latvala of sexual harassment on Thursday. Later that day, Latvala’s legal team released a series of text message exchanges between the two, showing a cordial working relationship.

But she claims the unwanted sexual advances occurred during several Legislative Sessions, starting in 2013.

The text messages, though, include jokes, memes featuring the Clearwater Republican and encouraging words like, “smile, somebody loves you!” followed by a heart emoji. They also include her asking Latvala for a favor to get her stepdad out of jury duty, texts saying that she donated to his campaign and her asking him to meet privately to discuss policy.

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Her attorney, Tiffany Cruz, said the string of texts does not change the fact that Perrin Rogers did not “invite or encourage Latvala to touch private parts of her body.” She added her behavior was a shield to accomplish one goal: do her job.

In the complaint, Perrin Rogers said Latvala’s misconduct started with verbal harassment. And when she asked him to stop by calling him an “obese, disgusting and dirty old man,” it took a turning point. She claims that once the unwanted comments stopped, the unwelcome physical advances began.

In one instance that occurred on February 2015, she said the physical harassment got so bad that she submitted her resignation to Simpson.

“I cited personal family reasons but also informed Simpson that I felt that the Senate was a cesspool and that Senator Latvala had upset me,” she wrote. “I did not explicitly tell him it was sexual in nature.”

Simpson was not immediately available to comment on this claim. Perrin Rogers ended up coming back to work for him.

In the midst of the month-long sex scandal, the 66-year-old senator has not yet pulled his name from the governor’s race, Andrews continues to deny all the allegations cited in the complaint.

Latvala, however, has defended himself differently in the public eye.

In recent interviews, Latvala denied touching women against their will, but said “who knows” if what he has said to women has been perceived as sexually unwelcomed.

“He denies ever doing it, and if he did do it and he doesn’t remember it, it certainly wasn’t intentional,” Andrews said.

Cruz says Latvala is not in the clear because he says he never intended to verbally harass Perrin Rogers.

“It’s not a valid defense,” she said

Ana covers politics and policy for Florida Politics.

Before joining Florida Politics, she was the legislative relief reporter for The Associated Press and covered policy issues impacting immigration, the environment, criminal justice and social welfare in Florida.

She holds a B.A. in journalism from San Diego State University. After graduating in 2014, she worked as a criminal justice reporter for the Monterey Herald and the Monterey County Weekly. She has also freelanced for The Washington Post at the U.S.-Mexico border covering crime in the border city of Tijuana, where she grew up. Ana is fluent in Spanish and has intermediate proficiency in Portuguese.

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