Bombshell charges abound in Jack Latvala report - Florida Politics

Bombshell charges abound in Jack Latvala report

Update:

Jack Latvala resigned from the Senate Wednesday afternoon. In a resignation letter to Senate President Joe Negron, Latvala wrote: “I have never intentionally dishonored my family, my constituents or the Florida Senate.

“My political adversaries have latched onto this effort to rid our country of sexual harassment to try to rid the Florida Senate of me.”

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The special master’s report on Sen. Jack Latvala dropped Tuesday afternoon — and it was more scandalous and horrifying than most would have imagined.

The report documents testimony from a former lobbyist that Latvala offered to trade legislative actions for sex. The report also includes graphic testimony from the Clearwater Republican’s primary accuser, Rachel Perrin Rogers, and others.

Some names were redacted from the report before it was turned over to the public.

Latvala denied the events as described. But it will ultimately be up to the Senate to decide his fate in the chamber because the report found probable cause Latvala engaged in the accused behavior. The report also recommends the alleged votes-for-sex propositions be turned over to criminal law enforcement for further investigation.

Here are the most relevant details of the report:

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From leering to groping: Perrin Rogers describes what happened when she confronted Latvala about his behavior.

Things just got worse, per her account:

“Senator Latvala made unwelcome and unwanted comments about my clothing, my breasts, and my legs. If I had to approach him about a bill or an issue on behalf of my boss, he would stare at my chest and look me up and down without giving any indication if he was listening to the public policy issue I was there to discuss.

“On one occasion, I responded to his comments about my body and told him if he continued to comment on my physical appearance, I would respond by calling him what he is: an obese, disgusting and dirty old man. My reply, intended to discourage him, instead had the opposite effect. He stopped making verbal comments and on at least six occasions since that time, subjected me to unwanted physical touching/grabbing/groping.”

Perrin Rogers also noted, “If I had to talk with him 100 times those two years, probably at least 30 of those times he made me feel uncomfortable with either the way he was looking at me or he made comments about my appearance, what I was wearing, that I was attractive.”

Those comments, often, weren’t even English.

When Perrin Rogers went to talk to Latvala about a legislative issue, he growled at her. Another encounter involved an “MMMM.” And a third involved the senator — one of the most powerful men in the state — saying she looked “hot,” asking if she’d “lost weight.”

Latvala addressed such comments, claiming to have discretion on who would be “offended” and who would “appreciate” them.

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The Cesspool: In February 2015, Perrin Rogers asserted that she ran into Latvala at the Governor’s Club, a prominent, members-only social club in Tallahassee. 

She said Latvala sat down next to her at the bar, draped an arm across the back of her chair, and then he put his hand down and just started rubbing the top of the thigh area of her left leg. He was rubbing his hand ‘back and forth’.”

Perrin Rogers confided in Caitlin Murray.

She was “ready to leave her job because she was so upset,” Murray reported.

Per Murray, Perrin Rogers told her, “I swear to God, he uses his body to block people and to block what he is doing with his hands.”

Rogers wrote her boss, Sen. Wilton Simpson, to resign in 2015.

She told Simpson the Senate was “a cesspool. I was trying to clear my head last night in GC (Governors Club) and I couldn’t even do that because of Jack Latvala. I left there very upset.”

Perrin Rogers resigned, then returned to employment with Simpson by the end of 2015.

Before coming back, she attempted to change to make herself less of a target.

“From what I know about the years that I have spent around Senator Latvala, he views women in a few different ways. There are women who he helps and respects, but doesn’t bother doesn’t bother in the way that he’s bothered other women, in the way that he’s touched or said things. I thought that if I sent this [a text message referencing a big hug], I thought I could appeal to him emotionally, and then I would be safer when I came back.

“I thought that I could and in an effort to do that, I also know that most of the time all of the times that I have had problems with him, my hair has been blonde, or lighter, and so at this time, I dyed my hair dark before I went back to the Senate.”

That strategy didn’t work, according to her account.

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Blocking: “He leaned in and sort of blocked my path and stopped me…. And he reached around and squeezed….his hugs were never, like, a, you know, front frontal arms around your back. He would put one around and squeeze on the midsection and just very tight and [with] his hand.”

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It kept happening: “Ms. Rogers testified as she sat alone at the bar, Senator Latvala approached her, talked with her briefly, and then reached around and did the side grab. She testified Senator Latvala touched her abdomen and midsection; he was squeezing and he moved his hand to the underside of her breast.”

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Donuts: On one occasion, Perrin Rogers testified that before Latvala had left a room, she was touched inappropriately.

“It was less of a grab than the previous times. But he just briefly squeezed on my love handle section,” Rogers said.

This happened after, of all things, Latvala allegedly throwing a fit about donuts not being available.

Latvala denied her account: “I find that just impossible to believe that happened. I mean, I would remember if I would have done it. I wouldn’t have hugged her at the end of a conversation. I wouldn’t have hugged her period. I mean, I just, I don’t hug Rachel. I haven’t ever hugged Rachel.”

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Elevator 13: The worst incident Rogers described, arguably, was one in an employees-only elevator in a parking garage at the Capitol.

“Ms. Rogers testified that after she gained access to Elevator 13, Senator Latvala ‘reached around and, I mean, really just lower than he had ever reached before towards I mean, I don’t know how else to say that, like, my vagina, my midsection, my breast – and grabbed … This time it was further in front and I know because it was different from the other times because it was so painful.'”

Rogers claimed to have physical pain for months after that.

“He squeezed and I yelled… He laughed. He chuckled. I went ‘Whoa’ like that. And he chuckled, and the elevator ride was over, and I got off.”

Sen. Simpson corroborated.

“Senator Simpson testified he recalled that Ms. Rogers reported to him that Senator Latvala had groped her or touched her on an elevator during the first committee week in October.”

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Grey Goose and groping: Ms. Rogers testified Senator Latvala was sitting on the far end of the couch in Senator Simpson s personal office and Ms. (redacted) was sitting in the middle of the couch. Ms. Rogers testified she saw Senator Latvala rubbing the side of Ms. (redacted) breast with his hand, and at one point, put his hand inside her clothing. Observing this made her feel upset and angry. Ms. Rogers testified Ms. (redacted) looked distressed by Senator Latvala’s conduct and pushed his hand away several times.”

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A second account: “Ms. (redacted) testified that between 2015 and 2017, Senator Latvala touched and groped her in an unwelcome manner every time she went to his office, and that she believed tolerating such behavior was part of her job as a lobbyist. If she went to his office in the Capitol and the door closed, she pretty much [was] always touched. Ms. (redacted) stated that Senator Latvala placed his hands up her dress, touched the outside of her underwear at her vaginal area, her buttocks, and her breast.”

The second account, thus far anonymous, “confirmed that Senator Latvala would place his hands on a woman’s waist and move his hand up and down the side of her body. This testimony corroborates Ms. Rogers account of the Elevator 13 incident as well as her description of Senator Latvala touching her midsection on four occasions during the 2016-2017 Legislative Sessions.”

She further testified that “Latvala expressly intimated to her on multiple occasions, that if she engaged in sexual acts or allowed him to touch her body in a sexual manner he would support particular legislative items for which she was lobbying.”

The report also said the accuser left the business. She didn’t want to feel like she owed Latvala anything.

3 Comments

  1. Why did Senator Wilt Simpson allow the sexual harassment to continue from 2015 to 2017? Simpson knew from his aide, but nothing? Maybe Simpson should also resign?

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