As he advocates for specific changes to the Senate’s sexual harassment policy currently under review, Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez said Monday “serious rules” are needed to make sure powerful senators like Jack Latvala stop making a “mockery of serious allegations.”
“Without independent investigation or serious rules, persons in power will game the system, intimidate victims and make a mockery of serious allegations, exactly as Senator Latvala is doing,” Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat, said in a statement.
For the past couple of weeks, the Clearwater Republican’s legal team has sought to discredit Rachel Perrin Rogers, a top aide to Sen. Wilton Simpson who in a sworn complaint accused Latvala of sexual assault and harassment, as it builds a defense in a Senate investigation.
“In a defense, you have to make your case that one party is believable and one is not,” Latvala said. “Sometimes the truth hurts, and I am dealing with the truth.”
Since Perrin Rogers publicly accused Latvala, the 66-year-old’s legal team has released text messages shedding light into their relationship, and a sworn statement from Lillian Tysinger, a 22-year-old former Senate Majority Office staffer, who claims Perrin Rogers has a history of raising allegations against others.
Rodriguez said the current Senate rules have allowed Latvala to “subvert a Senate investigation process that is now spiraling out of control.”
The South Florida senator has been pushing for changes to the sexual harassment policy since POLITICO Florida first reported that six unnamed women, including Perrin Rogers, claimed Latvala sexually harassed them in early November.
Soon after the report, he sent a letter to the Senate suggesting it should implement mandatory anti-sexual harassment training for all staffers, and also create an outreach program that would facilitate victims to come forward and an automatic independent review outside of the Senate when allegations come to light.
Rodriguez said that in order to discipline a senator, rules must be changed and an outside independent investigation is necessary.