The Florida Democratic Party is calling on Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, to resign because of allegations he sexually harassed six women and for the way he has handled the complaint filed by one of his accusers.
“Jack Latvala’s behavior is unacceptable and there is no place for it in our government or our state. Using a position of power to harass, touch, demean and pressure women—or anyone else— is wrong, plain and simple,” said Johanna Cervone, the spokeswoman for Florida Democrats. “Now, Latvala’s smear campaign against Rachel Perrin Rogers has resulted in her needing armed security. He must resign.”
Perrin Rogers is one of the six women who anonymously told their stories of alleged incidents of sexual harassment against them by Latvala. She is the only one to file a complaint with the Senate.
Under Senate rules, the identity of a person who claims to be a victim of sexual harassment is to remain secret.
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.
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 even provoked a response from Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson who described it as a “smear campaign.” Perrin Rogers serves as Simpson’s top legislative aide.
“Instead of taking steps to discourage this behavior, (Senate President) Joe Negron‘s mishandling of the complaint filed against Latvala has resulted in an environment where women continue to feel unsafe and afraid to come forward,” Cervone added. “Anyone who is guilty of using their power to harass or compromise women should resign immediately.”
Latvala denies the claims and has vowed to fight the charges against him to the very end.
“Why should I quit, leave town, when I didn’t do it?” Latvala told the Miami Herald on Monday. “I’m in my 16th year here, and I’ve got to protect my own reputation.”