Days of shrugging off sexual misconduct at the Capitol may be over

Many, many other occurrences of sexual harassment by lawmakers and staff members over the years went unreported because of the understandable reluctance of the victims to take on powerful figures. Each House and Senate office is like an independent business, with lawmakers and their senior aides controlling budgets, plum assignments and job mobility with little to no oversight. It has been a significant risk for aides to challenge the system and put their political hopes on the line…

“I think that the, sort of, flood gates have been opened in terms of the people who are willing to talk about their experiences,” said Representative Linda Sánchez of California, a member of the Democratic leadership. “And we can learn from that to figure out — how do we tighten up the procedures to make it a fairer process for complainants?”

“I think many don’t come forward because of the fear of reprisal, the fear of losing their job and the economic impact of that, the fear of being blacklisted throughout their career,” Ms. Sánchez said. “And I think now is finally that turning point in our country where people are starting to take complaints seriously, and people are starting to agitate for a fairer process for those who have been the victims of sexual assault or sexual harassment.”