The attorney representing Rachel Perrin Rogers, the woman who has accused Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, of sexual harassment, says the process is flawed and discourages victims in sexual harassment cases from coming forward with their complaints.
“I think the process is definitively flawed and it has failed the victim in this case to some degree,” said attorney Tiffany Cruz. “I have every faith that the special master has done his best job to remain focused on what her complaint is and do a fair and thorough investigation. The remainder of the process, outside that individual, has failed her and they need to take a serious look at making changes to that process.”
Perrin Rogers says she was forced to go public last week with her claims of sexual harassment when Latvala and his attorneys started leaking details about her identity and falsely accusing her husband of working for one of Latvala’s opponents in the race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.
“I think that every piece of, quote-unquote, evidence that think that they have they have leaked to the press and necessitating a response at times,” said Cruz. “They are forcing her to essentially confirm it herself because of the attacks they were making against her subversively and against her spouse.”
Some of the items that have been leaked include personal text messages between Perrin Rogers and Latvala.
The release of information by Latvala and his defense team has amounted to what Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson describes as a “smear campaign” against Perrin Rogers, who serves as Simpson’s top legislative aide.
“It must end immediately,” Simpson said in a statement released Monday morning.
“I think Sen. Simpson made a very strong statement yesterday in support of my client in condemning the abhorrent behavior of Sen. Latvala and I think that’s important,” Cruz added. “And I think until other senators stand up to the tactics that he’s been using, he’ll continue to do this.”
At least one Republican member of the Senate has come forward to call for Latvala to resign. In an interview with Politico, Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, says the sexual harassment case is taking a toll on the Senate:
“This highly respected and regarded establishment is being burnt to the ground and I feel Senator Latvala is running around with the Napalm and the matches. This is only going to get worse. And the best thing for everyone — every senator, every staffer, every accuser and/or accused — would be a resignation so that we do not have to deal with this problem anymore.”
We attempted to get reaction from Latvala outside a committee meeting Tuesday morning, but he refused to respond to questions.
Perrin Rogers is one of six women who anonymously came forward last month and anonymously claimed they were the victims of sexual harassment by Latvala. The senator has said he might have made lewd comments to women but insists he has never touched anyone inappropriately.
Perrin Rogers has accused Latvala of making lewd comment to her and touching her inappropriately.
Cruz says the developments involving the sexual harassment case have turned nastier day-by-day. She says the Senate needs to review its process for handling sexual harassment cases in the future to avoid making public spectacles of future cases.
“They should put some teeth into the rules and the statute about violating the confidentiality of the process,” Cruz said. “There should be a punishment for that. There should be a consequence.”
Cruz says until the Senate decides to toughen its rules, victims of sexual harassment will be discouraged from coming forward with complaints.
“It absolutely does. At least one other woman who is a victim of Jack Latvala has reported to Politico that she will not come forward because of what he has done to Rachel Perrin Rogers.”