Hastings Asks Court to Dismiss Harassment Claim

Posted July 10, 2011 at 8:04am

Rep. Alcee Hastings asked a D.C. federal court on Saturday to throw out a sexual harassment lawsuit against him, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

The Florida Democrat argued in a 42-page filing that the case should be subject to Congressionally approved administrative and judicial remedies and not handled by the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Winsome Packer, a Republican aide on a commission that Hastings headed, filed the suit in conjunction with Judicial Watch in early March. She alleged that she was repeatedly subjected to the lawmaker’s “unwelcome sexual advances” and “unwelcome touching” from 2008 to 2010, while the two worked on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission.

The Office of Congressional Ethics has also been probing the allegations and will decide whether to refer the case to the House Ethics Committee, according to Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch.

Hastings denied the allegations when the suit was filed, saying it was filled with “numerous inaccuracies and untruths” and that he would win any case. “In a race with a lie, the truth always wins,” he added.

In a footnote to the filing, Hastings “unequivocally” denied the accusations and accused Packer of trying to boost sales of her novel. Packer, who lives in Alexandria, Va., is the author of a political novel titled “A Personal Agenda,” a 2010 crime and romance novel based in D.C. that involves the murder of a “black and disgraced ex-Congressman” and aims to show that “racial, cultural and sexual harassment know no color,” according to a news release.

Packer’s suit names Hastings, the commission and its former staff director, Fred Turner, as defendants and says that Hastings and Turner threatened to retaliate by firing her if she reported her allegations.

The commission disputed the sexual harassment allegations in a separate filing Saturday, and Turner asked to be dismissed from the suit, contending a lack of evidence.

Janie Lorber and John Stanton contributed to this report.