U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee leaves 2 influential roles amid lawsuit

WASHINGTON (FOX 26) — Controversy has forced Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee to step down from two influential positions, after a former employee claims she was terminated when she revealed she was planning to sue over a sexual assault that happened when she was an intern.

The lawsuit was filed two weeks ago, now Sheila Jackson Lee, who serves the 18th District of Texas, has stepped down as Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and has taken temporary leave as Chair in a crucial House Judiciary subcommittee on criminal justice. The congresswoman who was very vocal in the past, defending victims of sexual abuse, now finds herself on the other side.

“It’s unfortunate it had to come to this, but I think it was the right thing to do. You know, although she has done sort of policy wise good things in the past, I think with this kind of suit hanging over her, I don’t think she can be an effective leader in these committees.“ says Lynne Bernabei, the attorney of the alleged victim. In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, Jackson Lee is claimed to have terminated a staffer, identified as Jane Doe, after she learned the employee wanted to sue a former supervisor, Damien Jones, who she claims raped her when she was an intern in 2015.

Jackson Lee is stepping down, and losing support. The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence has filed a retaliation complaint saying:

"As many know, Rep. Jackson Lee was a strong ally and primary sponsor of the reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the 115th Congress. We cannot, however, support her continued lead sponsorship.”

Now it will be up to judge to decide if Jackson Lee played a role in this incident.

"We’re going to proceed as it is now, which is a legal case, and we think, you know we got great evidence and I fully expect that more witnesses will step forward to corroborate our clients' claims,“ says Bernabie.