State Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, is sending a strong message regarding sexual harassment at the Capitol and the use of intimidation to target anyone who makes such a claim.
“I think it’s important that not only there is zero tolerance for sexual misconduct and verbal abuse, but there also be zero tolerance for any behavior that leads to one feeling like they should not come forward or feeling intimidated,” said Bradley after a meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The budget committee had been chaired by Sen. Jack Latvala until he was removed from that post last month after six woman anonymously made claims that they were sexually harassed by Latvala.
One of the women filed a complaint with the Senate Rules Committee against Latvala alleging the senator had made lewd comments and touched her inappropriately.
Rachel Perrin Rogers, who filed the complaint, 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.
Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, filed a separate complaint on Tuesday with the Rules Committee accusing Latvala of misconduct for his actions to identify Perrin Rogers publicly as his accuser.
The sexual harassment allegations are the subject of two investigations. A separate investigation is also being conducted by a special master that could ultimately lead to Latvala’s removal from the Senate.
Bradley says the special master’s report could be ready by next week. When completed, the report will be given to the Senate Rules Committee to decide what, if any, action should be taken against Latvala.
“There is a real chance that at some point in time we’ll be listening to evidence not only of underlying conduct that is alleged, but also potential conduct that has occurred since the allegations have come to light,” Bradley said, emphasizing he’s made no judgment in the case.
Latvala has denied the claims and has vowed to fight to clear his name.
Bradley, who sits on the Rules Committee, says he has not made any judgment in the case. But he wants to send a message that sexual harassment and intimidation will not be tolerated at the Florida Capitol
“I do think it’s important that everyone that visits the Capitol, who advocates for or against proposals we consider, that are involved as employees or otherwise, they understand there is zero tolerance for sexual misconduct for verbal abuse or for, even when those allegations are made, for any attempts to intimidate. And that needs to be stated clearly and publicly so that there is no doubt that that is the position of this senator and the colleagues that I stand side-by-side with,” Bradley said.