Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson is coming to the defense of his chief legislative aide who is one of the women who has accused Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, of sexual harassment.
In a statement sent out by Simpson on Monday, the Springhill Republican accuses Latvala of conducting “a smear campaign” against Rachel Perrin Rogers for alleging Latvala groped her and made lewd comments about her body.
“Rachel has been a trusted and valued member of my team for more than five years. Her tireless work ethic has served the people of my district and the state of Florida well.Since mid-last week there has been a smear campaign launched against Rachel. It must end immediately,” Simpson said in a statement released Monday morning.
Perrin Rogers is one of six women who anonymously came forward last month and claimed they were the victims of sexual harassment by Latvala.
She went public with her story last week after accusing Latvala of giving clues to the media to tip off reporters to her identity. Perrin Rogers also says Latvala has accused her husband of working for one of Latvala’s opponents in the GOP gubernatorial primary. A claim she says is untrue.
“Senate Rules, Florida Statutes and federal law guarantee confidentiality in these matters,” Simpson said in his statement. “This is not a political campaign; it is about the safety and security of someone coming forward with serious allegations. If we do not protect those who speak out, we will silence other potential victims who deserve justice.”
Simpson’s comments can’t be a good sign if Latvala wants to clear his name as he claims. Simpson is line to be Senate president and is a member of the Senate’s Rules committee which would decide Latvala’s fate on the harassment charges.
“President Negron has two ongoing investigations that should be concluded in the near future. Out of respect for those who have or may come forward, and in adherence to the Senate Rules and the law, all intimidation tactics must cease,” Simpson said.
“The Capitol must be the premier example of a workplace that is free from harassment and filled with a sense of security and safety,” he ended his statement.