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Rep. Alcee Hastings faces sexual harassment suit

On Monday, conservative legal group Judicial Watch announced that it filed a lawsuit for sexual harassment against Florida congressman Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., on behalf of Winsome Packer, a former aide to the congressman.

Packer claims that between January 2008 and February 2010, the congressman touched her, made unsolicited sexual advances and asked her about her underwear.

Packer, who is a republican, was a staff member on the Democratic-controlled U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe during the time the congressman served as chairman for that commission.

In the complaint, it is alleged that Packer was "forced to endure unwelcome sexual advances, crude sexual comments and unwelcome touching" by the congressman. She said that on one occasion, Hastings commented how he could understand how women in Congress could wear the same underwear from the time the House of Representatives went into session in the morning until it recessed at night, and that he turned to her and asked what kind of underwear she was wearing.

Packer said that she rejected Hastings' on several occasions when he invited himself into her room, and that a former staff director and Hastings threatened to fire her because of her objections to Hastings' behavior.

Judicial Watch said that Hastings suffered depression and other health problems as a result of the harassment, and was forced to leave her job.

Hastings, a divorced father of three, fervently denied the allegation of sexual harassment, claiming that the lawsuit was a political attack. "I am insulted that these ludicrous allegations are being made against me," said Hastings. "When all the facts are known in this case, the prevailing sentiment will be, 'How bizarre!'"

Source: NYDailyNews.com, "Rep. Alcee Hastings, Florida Democrat, sued for alleged sexual harassment by ex-aide Winsome Packer," Aliyah Shahid, 8 Mar 2011.

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