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Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee steps down from two leadership roles due to pressure caused by lawsuit


The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation told her to resign, or face potential removal

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (R-Texas) has resigned from her roles in the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and a House Judiciary subcommittee chairmanship, following allegations that she fired an employee who had brought sexual assault allegations against a supervisor.

In a lawsuit, a former intern claimed that she was raped by her supervisor at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. This alleged rape survivor then claims she was fired from Jackson Lee's office (where she worked two years after the incident) after telling Jackson Lee's chief of staff about the incident and stating that she wanted her allegations to be investigated, and planned to take legal action against the foundation. When this happened, Jackson Lee was serving as the foundation's chairwoman. The victim was 17 at the time of the alleged incident.

Jackson Lee's office has insisted that the woman's internship was not terminated for this reason. The accused supervisor, a former internship coordinator, was fired from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation for drinking with a minor, but claims that he is innocent of having any sexual contact with the victim.

On Jan. 17, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's board asked her to resign. At the time Jackson Lee refused to step down. Jackson Lee, 69, is currently in her 13th term in Congress.

However, on Thursday, The New York Times reported that Jackson Lee would be stepping down from both her role with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and a chairmanship of the House Judiciary's crime, terrorism, homeland security and investigations subcommittee. According to The New York Times, the foundation gave her the option of resigning on her own or being removed after a vote.

In a statement, Jackson Lee's office said:

The congresswoman is confident that, once all of the facts come to light, her office will be exonerated of any retaliatory or otherwise improper conduct and this matter will be put to rest.
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