HARTFORD (AP) - The cries for embattled U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty to step down for not protecting female staffers who said they experienced violence, death threats and sexual harassment by her former chief of staff intensified on Saturday, with fellow Democrats saying the allegations were shocking and she needed to “do the right thing.”
Esty, an outspoken advocate for the #MeToo movement, was put in the awkward position of having to apologize for not protecting the staffers in her Washington office. But she has repeatedly dismissed calls for her to resign, and on Saturday her office said she was standing by her statement from a day earlier: She’s not leaving.
Among those suggesting Esty leave office were former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, who said the emerging story of “battery, harassment and threatening” from Esty’s ex-chief of staff and Esty’s handling of the response were “very troubling.”
Bysiewicz, who has two daughters in their 20s, said employers should provide safe work environments and Congress should hold itself to an even higher standard but, “Sadly, this is clearly not the case, and this needs to change immediately.”
“I know Congresswoman Esty to be a woman of action rather than words, and in this case, words are not enough,” said Bysiewicz, who is exploring a run for the governor’s office. “I believe that under the circumstances, Congresswoman Esty must step down from her position.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney said Esty has long been a leader in the fight against workplace harassment and abuse but if recent news stories are true “Congresswoman Esty should do the right thing and resign.”
“The heartbreaking stories of so many victims only reinforce the need to ensure that we must do all within our power to protect those who depend on us and ensure safe work environments so that no one at her or his place of employment ever feels exposed to discrimination, harassment or retaliation of any kind,” Looney said in an emailed statement.