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Judge Rules for Alcee Hastings on Harassment Charges

Rep. Alcee Hastings is off the hook for sexual harassment charges filed by a former aide, a federal judge ruled today.

Winsome Packer, a Republican aide on a commission headed by the Florida Democrat, filed a lawsuit in D.C. federal court in March alleging that from 2008 to 2010, she was repeatedly subjected to the lawmaker’s “unwelcome sexual advances” and “unwelcome touching.”

Hastings said he appreciated the court’s ruling and called Packer’s allegations bogus.

“This whole thing is ridiculous, bizarre, frivolous, and has wasted — and is still wasting — a whole lot of folks’ time and money,” he said in a statement.

But the dismissal will not relieve Hastings from public scrutiny.

He is still under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, a probe that began in October when the Office of Congressional Ethics referred its findings on the lawmaker for further review. Notes from the independent office’s interviews with Hastings made public in January revealed the lawmaker’s inclination for drinking with staffers and making sexually charged comments.

Packer worked at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe; Hastings was once its chairman.

U.S. District Judge Barbara J. Rothstein also dismissed the charges against the commission’s former staff director Fred Turner, who Packer said retaliated against her after she complained about the harassment.

Although Hastings and Turner are not personally liable, the commission Packer worked for still is, the dismissal said.

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