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Female House members allege that sexual harassment happens among congressmen, too

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Former Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) said she was sexually harassed by a fellow lawmaker during her 15 years in Congress. (File photo/Getty images)

A fellow lawmaker allegedly sexually harassed former Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) for years, but it wasn't until she called him out for his misconduct that he finally stopped.

Bono, 56, told The Associated Press that the man who made increasingly suggestive comments to her still serves in Congress. She served 15 years in Congress before being defeated in 2012.

 What happened?

The congressman, whom Bono chose not to name, according to the AP, "approached her on the House floor and told her he’d been thinking about her in the shower."

Bono said she'd had enough and told the man "his comments were demeaning and wrong."

Has anyone else made similar claims?

Yes, several female lawmakers have made similar allegations, but none have come forward with names of those accused. Many of the incidents happened years or decades ago when the women were young and new to Congress, the AP reported.

Former Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.), who left Congress in 2009, said she tried to ignore the "repeated unwanted harassing overtures from one lawmaker." She did not share the details of what happened with the AP or the name of the man she accuses.

“It’s humiliating, even though they may have thought they were being cute. No, it’s not. It’s not appropriate. I’m your colleague, but he doesn’t see me that way, and that’s a problem,” Solis told the AP

Former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) described an incident from the 1980s when a congressman "using the traditional congressional parlance, said he wanted to 'associate' himself with her remarks — adding afterward that he also wanted to 'associate with the gentle lady.'”

"This is about power," Boxer said of the incident.

Boxer, 76, told the AP that those in attendance laughed and the committee chairman even gave an approving second. Boxer asked to have the comment removed from the record.

Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California also recently came forward with sexual assault allegations against a former chief of staff.

She even took to Twitter last week where she posted a video calling Congress “a breeding ground for a hostile work environment” and asked others to come forward.

Speier, 67, is working on legislation that mandates sexual harassment training for congressional offices, along with other changes.

Can sexual harassment occurs among equal peers?

Former Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) argues that sexual harassment between two members of Congress can't happen because she says they are equal peers, according to the AP.

But Jennifer Drobac, a professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, said the law specifies that it can happen among equals. Drobac teaches a course in sexual harassment law.

“Formally, two members of Congress may have the same status. That doesn’t change the fact that sexual harassment can occur between peers,” Drobac told the AP, adding that numerous other factors can come into play, including age differences, tenure and that men have more power in society.

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