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Top Democrat admits to sexual harassment settlement, but denies accuser's claims

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) denied allegations made in a settlement he made with a former staffer who said she was sexually harassed by the congressman. The story was revealed by a Buzzfeed expose Monday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Representative John C0nyers (D-Mich.) admitted that he settled a claim by a staffer accusing him of sexual harassment for $27,000 in exchange for a confidentiality agreement, but denied any wrongdoing.

What were the accusations?

Buzzfeed news published the blockbuster expose that exposed Rep. Conyers among those members of Congress that used taxpayer money to settle accusations of sexual harassment. They obtained documents that included "four signed affidavits, three of which are notarized, from former staff members who allege that Conyers... repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sex acts, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public. Four people involved with the case verified the documents are authentic."

Conyers is the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

What did Conyers admit to?

In a statement Tuesday, Conyers said the settlement was made to avoid a trial, but that he admitted no wrongdoing in the matter. He said the settlement of $27,000 amounted to a "reasonable severance payment."

"The resolution was not for millions of dollars, but rather for an amount that equated to a reasonable severance payment. There are statutory requirements of confidentiality that apply to both the employee and me regarding this matter," he said.

"To the extent the House determines to look further at these issues, I will fully cooperate with an investigation," he added.

Is he being investigated for the accusations?

Yes, hours after his statement, the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation in the settlement.

"The Committee is aware of public allegations that Representative John Conyers, Jr. may have engaged in sexual harassment of members of his staff, discriminated against certain staff on the basis of age, and used official resources for impermissible personal purposes," the committee said in a statement.

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