The “Me Too” wave of women claiming they were sexually harassed by employers and coworkers in the workplace has come ashore in Hampton Roads.
A former Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) fellow, M. Reese Everson, is accusing U.S. Congressman Robert Scott (3rd Dist.) of sexually harassing her in 2013.
Scott, who is from Newport News, has denied vehemently her claims in traditional and online media outlets. He also has been receiving heavy support from his political allies and constituents.
In a statement released December 15, Scott said, “I absolutely deny this allegation of misconduct. I have never sexually harassed anyone in my 25 years of service in the United States Congress, or in my 40 years of public service, or at any other time.
“Sexual harassment and assault are serious issues deserving of critical attention and review,” he continued. “No one should be subjected to sexual harassment or be treated unfairly. I have fought to promote and ensure that in my political and professional life, and I live by it personally.
“The recent national discussion about sexual harassment is valued and important to our work to continue to make the workplace free from harassment and discrimination. False allegations will squander this momentous opportunity for dialogue on meaningful change in the workplace. I am confident that this false allegation will be seen for what it is when the facts are adequately reviewed.”
Scott has been in the U.S. Congress since 1993, when he became the first Black person, post-Reconstruction to be elected from Virginia.
David Dailey, press spokesperson for Scott’s office in Washington, D.C., said the Congressman’s office received a call from a New York Times reporter in early November that the paper was working on a story about Everson’s allegations against Scott and was about to print it. But the reporter said they had not given Scott a chance to respond to them.
Dailey said he and other staffers did an inventory of all of the e-mails related to Everson and began the pushback against her claims. He said “the facts are on our side.”
According to Dailey, Everson had a 20-month fellowship with the CBCF from Sept. 10, 2102 to May 23, 2104. She was required to spend 10 months working in a Congressman’s or Senator’s office and the remainder with the CBC Foundation office.
During a news conference December 15, Everson shared specifics of her alleged interaction with Scott during her time working in his office on Capitol Hill.
“I was propositioned to have a sexual relationship with my boss that I did not want,” she said at the news conference in Arlington. “I was retaliated against, I was wrongfully terminated and I was Blackballed,” she said.
According to Dailey, Everson left Scott’s office with an evaluation detailing her strengths and weaknesses.
He said the CBC Foundation kept meticulous records of Everson’s work history and performance during the time she worked for the organization. The House Financial Services Committee terminated Everson, he noted, not Congressman Scott.
The CBCF report said she was cited for sleeping on the job, poor work production, not signing in to work as required, and being late for work claiming she had run out of gas several times at the CBCF office and during her time in Scott’s office.
In 2015, Everson published a book where she wrote about being sexually harassed by a number of men whom she did not name specifically. In the book, she offers tips to young women who may experience discrimination and harassment, and she now advocates on the topic.
Dailey said the New York Times account did not mention the fact that Everson worked in Chicago and was fired for poor work performance. This is when she filed a sexual harassment suit against a female supervisor in 2011.
During her press conference, Everson said there were three instances when she felt harassed by Scott. She detailed a conversation she said transpired with Scott where he allegedly asked her to attend an event and wanted to know, “if you go, are you going to be good?’”
Everson continued, “I said yes … He said ‘if you’re going to be good then what’s the point of you coming?’
“I thought I could lighten the mood in a joking way,” by rebuffing him,” she said, “but anger flashed across his face and he was disgusted and angry.”
In an earlier November 29 press release, Everson claimed the Congressman “touched her leg and body without permission and offered to advance her in her career if she’d allow him to have his way.”
At the news conference December 15, Everson said she had previously “dismissed” the interactions and “didn’t want to believe there was anything to it.”
Scott has the eighth longest tenure among the 49 members of the CBC. John Conyers, who has the longest (starting in 1966) is resigning, after a former staff member accused him of sexual misconduct.
Scott is one of four Democrats representing Virginia in the House of Representatives. He is tied with Republican Bob Goodlatte in seniority, 24 years.
By Leonard E. Colvin