A freshman House Democrat wants the Legislature to have zero involvement in investigations into Sen. Jack Latvala‘s alleged sexual harassment of six women at the Capitol.
Rep. Amy Mercado of Orlando on Wednesday said the only “equitable” investigation for both the accused and the alleged victims excludes any involvement from each chamber.
She took part in a press conference on the steps of the old Capitol. She was joined by Orlando Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Barbara DeVane of the Florida National Organization for Women.
Also in attendance was Rick Johnson, a Tallahassee attorney who represented Kathie Jennings, a former house staffer, when she filed a sexual harassment complaint against Rep. Fred Lippman in 1987.
Latvala’s attorney has called for a retired judge to conduct the investigation into Latvala’s sexual harassment allegations following Senate General Counsel Dawn Roberts‘ recusal.
Mercado, however, wants the independence of the investigation taken a step further.
When a reporter asked whether her assertion applies to any review of the investigation by Senate President Joe Negron, Mercado said: “In my opinion, (the Legislature) should recuse themselves of the entire process.”
Otherwise, she added, victims will continue to be apprehensive about coming forward.
“When a victim feels like they’re going into the lion’s den to complain about the lion, what are they really going to do? They’re not going to go in,” Mercado said.