Judicial Watch Statement on Court Ruling in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit against Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton today issued a statement in response to a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Judicial Watch’s sexual harassment lawsuit filed on behalf of Winsome Packer, a female federal employee who alleges that she was repeatedly subjected to “unwelcome sexual advances,” “unwelcome touching” and retaliation from Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) (Packer v. US Comm. On Security & Cooperation in Europe, and Hastings and Turner (CV No. 11-00485)).
On February 14, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that pursuant to the Congressional Accountability Act the case will now proceed against the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which will now serve as the sole defendant in the lawsuit.
Mr. Fitton said:
This court ruling does not exonerate Congressman Hastings. This is simply a procedural decision as how our lawsuit will proceed. We’re confident when the court weights the considerable evidence against Hastings in this case, Winsome Packer will get the justice she deserves.
As the Office of Congressional Ethics recently ruled, there is good reason to believe that Congressman Hastings violated Ms. Packer’s civil rights. Rep. Hastings’ attacks against Winsome Packer are disgraceful, unlawful and beneath the office he holds.
Rep. Hastings’ aggressive denials and persistent attacks against Ms. Packer, which continue to this day, bring to mind his corrupt behavior that resulted in his impeachment and removal from the federal bench.
We look forward to giving Winsome Packer her day in court and to prosecuting this case. Already, Hastings appears to be telling one version of events to the court and a different story to House ethics investigators.
Ms. Packer alleges that Rep. Hastings subjected her to unwelcome sexual advances and touching over a two-year period when she worked for the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (also known as the Helsinki Commission). Ms. Packer further alleges that Rep. Hastings, with the assistance of Helsinki Commission Staff Director Fred Turner, retaliated against her when she rebuffed the congressman’s advances.
On October 11, 2011, in response to a complaint filed by Judicial Watch, the Office of Congressional Ethics referred the matter to the House Ethics Committee and released a report concluding, “[T]here is probable cause to believe that Representative Hastings violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law as a result of his interactions with [Ms. Packer].” The House Ethics Committee announced in January 2012 that it would extend is probe of the matter.