HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS/AP) — A Republican congressman from Pennsylvania who settled a former aide’s sexual harassment complaint with taxpayer money said Tuesday that he developed a deep affection for her and reacted badly when she began dating another man, but never harassed her or pursued a romantic relationship.
“My wife is the woman I love and she’s been remarkable through this,” said Rep. Pat Meehan during an interview with CBS3’s David Spunt.
The Republican congressman admits he called a former female staffer a soul mate. Over the weekend the New York Times broke the story.
“I did not sexually harass this former female staffer,” Meehan told Eyewitness News.
The congressman gave CBS3 a handwritten letter he sent to the unnamed woman, congratulating her on a new relationship with a man. He says he learned of that relationship over ice cream with the woman last year.
The revelation comes amid a national reckoning over sexual misconduct in the workplace. Four members of Congress have either resigned or said they won’t run again amid complaints from women about sexual misconduct.
The former aide made the complaint last summer to the congressional Office of Compliance after Meehan became hostile toward her when she did not reciprocate his romantic interest, and she left the job, the Times reported. The Times did not identify the accuser and said she did not speak to the newspaper.
On Saturday, House Speaker Paul Ryan called for an Ethics Committee investigation and Meehan’s removal from the committee. He also told Meehan to repay the money, his office said.
After the Times published its story, Meehan pushed to dissolve the confidentiality provisions in the agreement “to ensure a full and open airing of all the facts.”
When asked if he’d step down, Meehan told CBS3, “No way.”
This woman wants to be anonymous. Her attorney, Alexis Ronickher says Meehan should stop talking about the situation publicly. Meehan will not say how much he paid the former staffer and will pay the funds back if he’s instructed to by the committee.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)