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.