Congressman John Conyers has decided to remove himself from his ranking position as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee in light of recent allegations that he sexually harassed several of his former female staffers.
Although the 88-year-old lawmaker continues to maintain his innocence in response to the accusations of sexual misconduct, he released a statement on Sunday in which he said he believes it’s in the best interest of the committee that he step down from his top position.
“I have come to believe that my presence as ranking member on the committee would not serve these efforts while the Ethics Committee investigation is pending,” Conyers said in the statement, according to a report from TIME. “I cannot in good conscience allow these charges to undermine my colleagues in the Democratic Caucus, and my friends on both sides of the aisle in the Judiciary Committee and the House of Representatives.”
Rep. Conyers also reiterated that he “very much” looks forward to “vindicating both himself and his family” by way of due process in response to the allegations.
A Buzzfeed article published on November 20 claimed Conyers’ office paid a woman $27,000 to resolve a suit in which she said she was fired after refusing his unwanted sexual advances. The report also included several statements from former employees who claimed they’d witnessed Conyers inappropriately touching female staffers and requesting “sexual favors.”
Conyers among the latest of a growing list of poweful men in the public eye to face allegations of either sexual assault, or sexual harassment, in recent weeks.