Conyers accuser Melanie Sloan: People 'shrug off' misconduct on Capitol Hill

The Michigan representative is under scrutiny for alleged sexual harassment.

ByABC News
November 24, 2017, 8:28 AM

— -- In an interview with ABC News, Melanie Sloan, a lawyer who worked with Michigan Rep. John Conyers on the House Judiciary Committee, says the congressman was “increasingly abusive” to her and often berated her loudly in public. She also says on one occasion she “walked into his office having been called up to brief him on something and he was walking around in his underwear.”

Sloan is the third woman to accuse Conyers of impropriety. On Monday, BuzzFeed reported Conyers' office paid a female aide over $27,000 as part of a confidentiality agreement to settle a wrongful dismissal complaint; Conyers did not admit wrongdoing. The next day, the outlet reported that in February Conyers' longtime scheduler filed a federal complaint alleging "sexual advances in the form of inappropriate comments and touches," but she later abandoned the case after a court denied her request to keep it sealed.

Conyers, the longest-serving member of the U.S. House, has denied all accusations of wrongdoing, and his lawyer released a statement Wednesday night saying the congressman “has no plans to resign” and that he will cooperate with any investigation the House deems necessary.

“Congressman Conyers has always maintained his innocence in the face of these allegations,” Conyers’ attorney Arnold Reed wrote in a statement.

Sloan, a Washington lawyer, was minority counsel to the House Judiciary Committee from 1995 until 1998. She currently serves as a senior adviser to American Oversight, a government watchdog group.

In this Nov. 1, 2014, file photo, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., speaks at Wayne State University in Detroit.
In this Nov. 1, 2014, file photo, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., speaks at Wayne State University in Detroit.

"There was an occasion where he called me out of a meeting with a bunch of domestic violence advocates and was screaming at me in the halls, including [about] me not wearing stockings on a 95-degree Washington summer day ... while he wasn't wearing socks," Sloan told ABC News.

She also told ABC News that while she did not consider Conyers' behavior to be sexual harassment she did consider it to be “sexual discrimination.”

“I don't think he was having male staffers babysit his kids and I don't think male staffers were berated in the same way that I was,” Sloan said. “Certainly, Congressman Conyers was picking on me and this was well known throughout the committee staff. It was obvious.”

Sloan said the treatment she suffered is sadly not uncommon on Capitol Hill.

“My sense is people shrug off members' misconduct on Capitol Hill. The kind of abuse I suffered at Congressman Conyers was awful, but I won't say that it's unique,” Sloan said. “Capitol Hill is a place where loyalty is valued above all, so if you were to ever to speak badly about a former member of Congress, you can find yourself shunned and find it very difficult to find future employment and I think members of Congress are well aware of that and they prey upon that.”