Jack Latvala accuser sued by former colleague for defamation – Florida Politics

Jack Latvala accuser sued by former colleague for defamation

A witness for Sen. Jack Latvala in the sexual harassment case sued his accuser for defamation on Friday, claiming she spread lies about her having sexual encounters with colleagues and about her being mentally-ill.

Lily Tysinger, a 22-year-old Senate staffer, got tangled up in the Senate sexual harassment investigation when she released an affidavit that raised questions about Rachel Perrin Rogers, who filed a sworn complaint against Latvala for sexually harassing her during a four-year period.

Tiffany Cruz, who is representing Perrin Rogers, said the sworn statement Tysinger released this week, in which she suggested Perrin Rogers’ false claims about has an effect on her demotion — and an $11,000 pay cut — , was a “complete lie.”

Marie Mattox, who has built a career around cases related to sexual harassment and workplace discrimination, particularly involving state workers, is representing Tysinger. A few years ago, Mattox and Cruz worked together.

Tysinger had been considering suing Perrin Rogers for defamation since Monday. She pulled the trigger late on Friday and filed the lawsuit in Leon County Court.

Cruz said the complaint against Perrin Rogers, a top aide to future Senate president Sen. Wilton Simpson, is “meritless and frivolous” and will “absolutely” file a counterclaim against her.

“This is absolutely an act of retaliation and intimidation,” Cruz said.

In anticipation of any claims brought in court related to the Latvala sexual harassment case, Cruz sent a letter to Senate President Joe Negron asking him to preserve nearly eight years of records.

In the letter, first obtained by News Service of Florida, Cruz requested emails, texts, voice messages and text message, spreadsheets, images and documents. She also asked him to intervene to prevent the loss of those records.

“I’m asking them to preserve documents related to any claims that may be brought in court,” Cruz said. “It’s a pretty standard evidence preservation request.”

She added that the suit is an example of the intimidation tactics Latvala is using to keep women from coming forward and reporting sexual harassment. Sen. Lauren Book, a Democrat from Plantation and a close ally of the embattled Clearwater Republican, filed a formal complaint with the Senate Rules Committee this week accusing him of interfering with the Senate probe into his alleged sexual misconduct.

While the lawsuit brought forth on behalf of Tysinger makes no mention of Latvala, it is directly linked to the information she shared that has helped his legal team build a defense.

Steve Andrews, one of Latvala’s attorneys, said that he was “shocked” to see Tysinger sue Perrin Rogers, even though it had already been reported that she had been mulling the legal battle for a few days.

“I don’t know whether it benefits us or not, we don’t know what to think of this,” Andrews said. “We are reviewing the lawsuit and we don’t know what to think yet.”

In the complaint, she accused Perrin Rogers of attacking her credibility in “credible internet new agencies” that has resulted in her being humiliated and shamed in addition to having damaged her reputation for time to come.

Tysinger is seeking to recover damages of at least $15,000.

As the Senate investigation continues and calls for his resignation gradually increase, Latvala keep on fighting while staying in office.

“My client had hopes for a fair and impartial process in the Senate, but due to recent actions, we have serious concerns,” Cruz 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.

2 Comments

  1. The quote from Tiffany Cruz stating, “My client had hopes for a fair and impartial process in the Senate, but due to recent actions, we have serious concerns,” is exactly how Senator Latvala and his legal team must have felt since the allegations were lodged in the press…a grand and deliberate act in an opportunistic manner which immediately took any hopes for a fair and impartial process…one that has been in place for decades allowing both teams to come to an agreement of terms without the media and public spotlight. If there was a need to inform the public it should have been after the case had been closed. This distraction was not orchestrated by Latvala’s team. He had no “team” before this news broke.

  2. This is a must read article.
    Why the #MeToo Moment Should Be Ready for a Backlash
    As a much-needed reckoning happens in the workplace, look to college campuses for a note of caution.
    By EMILY YOFFE

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