Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says the six women who anonymously accused state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, of sexual harassment should come forward and publicly tell their stories.
“As a career prosecutor I would say you have to come forward because someone has the right to face their accuser, it can’t be done under the condition of anonymity,” Bondi said. “As a woman I would say, ‘Please come forward.’”
Bondi’s comments came as she spoke with reporters after a meeting of the Cabinet Wednesday morning.
The women who made the charges against Latvala told their stories to Politico on the condition of anonymity. Politico published the allegations Friday evening. Latvala denies the allegations claiming they are politically motivated. He announced in August he was running for governor in 2018.
“People say why don’t women come forward? Because they are intimidated. Because they are scared. Don’t be scared,” Bondi added.
Bondi says the creation of the #MeToo campaign on social media sites that followed allegations of sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein “says a whole lot about where we are and where we need to go farther in our society.”
Gov. Rick Scott was also asked about the allegations against Latvala.
“What we’ve read so far is absolutely disgusting,” Scott said. “Behavior like that cannot be tolerated by anybody.”
Senate leaders are continuing their search for an independent, third-party special counsel to look into the claims of sexual harassment against Latvala. Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, called for an investigation Friday evening after Politico published the women’s allegations.
Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said Senate leaders had begun working Monday on what she calls the ‘initial phase of researching individuals and firms that specialize in employment law who would be able to conduct this independent investigation for the Senate.” She says it’s a process that could take a few days.
Scott welcomed the investigation.
“The citizens of our state deserve much better than what we’ve read about in the papers. There’s an investigation. There needs to be an investigation,” Scott said. “We need to find out exactly what happened. If anybody has done anything wrong they shouldn’t be serving.”