Former Sen. Jack Latvala sent sexually explicit text messages and groped a Senate legislative aide with whom he had a 20-year relationship with, according to a Miami Herald report published Tuesday.
Laura McLeod, an aide to Sen. Lauren Book, is the latest to publicly accuse Latvala of sexual misconduct. Her interactions with the Republican is what has led the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to look into public corruption charges.
Here are five takeaways from the Herald report:
- Nearly every time McLeod went to Latvala’s Senate office, “he went to close the door and he turned around to hug me and then would grope me or touch me inappropriately.”
- In the Senate investigation, McLeod’s sworn testimony was backed by personal journals and text messages that “documented her interactions, frustrations and angst about dealing with Latvala.” The special master requested copies of that evidence and she complied, the Times/Herald reported.
- McLeod did not come forward sooner because she considered herself “a flawed messenger.” She and Latvala had previously had a consensual, sexual affair, when he was in his first eight-year tenure in the Senate. The affair ended, but started again when he became Senate budget chair and held power over McLeod’s clients. From January 2015 to April of last year, he pursued her for sex, McLeod told the Herald.
- A taste of some of the texts Latvala sent to McLeod: “You looked good in committee. I woke up wanting you,” one said. “No panties Friday,” he wrote another day. In February 2016, he texted, “maybe I should sit on the bill another week at least until I hear that sound!” in reference to sexual sounds.
- The former senator’s response: “It did not affect my service to the people of Florida in any way and I understand that Ms. McLeod acknowledged that she never felt any pressure on legislative issues, contrary to the implications of the Special Master’s report … By resigning I paid a heavy price for my weakness. I apologize again to my constituents and friends. I guess it is for the people of Florida to decide if the punishment fits my poor judgment.”