State Senator says Jack Latvala is making ‘mockery of serious allegations’


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.

Ana Ceballos

Ana covers politics and policy Before joining the News Service of Florida she wrote for the Naples Daily News and 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.

One comment

  • Kimberly Reimer

    December 4, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    It has been reported that millions of dollars have been discretely spent to settle sexual harassment cases in the past. The public never heard about any allegations or defense in these cases. We had no idea these events had even occurred. The outcome and details should have been made public. This is a change that must be made.

    From the public’s perspective…this case seemed to come out of nowhere. Senator Latvala woke up to celebrate his birthday and POW, Hook, Slam!!!

    This case was front page news from the moment it broke. One day as far as we knew, the senate was working on the peoples business, the next…allegations are flying through the capitol like partisan rhetoric . Is someone able to truly defend themselves in these situations? First, there were cries that everyone must step forward. Then, suddenly, when it was someone that was known, fingers flailed the cries rang out for privacy. The buzz in the halls of Tallahassee must be deafening. The people there were going to figure out the gritty little details leaks or not. The cesspool is only so big.

    In hind sight, there should be processes in place that immediately creates some type of gag order for both sides. For a case to play out in the spotlight of public opinion not to mention the gossip in the halls…neither side has a fair opportunity to defend themselves.

    I am saddened by the fact that both the men and women that are there to work on our behalf cannot handle themselves or have the self-worth and confidence to correct any egregious harassment situation the moment it occurs. The day after or even week after it occurs. No, we are hearing about months/years later.

    The statement made by other legislators stating that the language used in the email conversations was “just a staffer getting her job done” makes this even worse. Apparently, it is okay to call another woman a whore, but if a man tells you you have nice legs, you are suddenly offended and harassed. She can talk with another woman about her lewd dreams of the senator, but the supposed brush of a hand in a crowded elevator sends her on a leave of absence? No person deserves to be touched unwillingly. No person is perfect. No person is able to defend themselves in a “he said, she said” situation without ramifications. It is fair to allow a person to defend themselves. It is fair to allow the public to share their opinion. You opened the box and let us in.

    We need strong leaders and staff that will be willing to call it as it is, on the spot, from here on out. We cannot, as a state or country, start some retroactive man hunt that destroys lives when we as a country allowed these actions as status quo. We all turned a cheek to the realities of sexual harassment. How can we stand by and let a few take the punishment? Either we change the social contract or we allow this current movement ringing across the country to be yet another lost opportunity. Will this be a trend in the news or a turning point in society?

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