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Report Faults Gillibrand on Her Signature Issue

Senator is a #MeToo champion, but female aide quits over handling of harassment complaint
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2019 10:05 AM CDT
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, listens during a hearing about prevention and response to sexual assault in the military on March...   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has made the #MeToo issue a signature part of her rise in politics and her 2020 presidential campaign. Now, however, Politico is out with a report that raises questions about Gillibrand's own handling of a related issue. A female staffer in her 20s quit over how Gillibrand's office dealt with her complaint of sexual harassment regarding an older male colleague. The woman accused the man of making repeated crude comments and unwelcome advances, but she said her superiors did nothing about it. In her resignation letter to Gillibrand, the woman wrote, "Your office chose to go against your public belief that women shouldn't accept sexual harassment in any form and portrayed my experience as a misinterpretation instead of what it actually was: harassment and ultimately, intimidation."

Politico then did its own investigation into the accused man and dug up more allegations of inappropriate comments. The news outlet presented its results to Gillibrand's office two weeks ago, and the man, Abbas Malik, was dismissed last week. He didn't respond to requests for comment. Gillibrand, meanwhile, issued a statement defending her office's handling of the original complaint. "As I have long said, when allegations are made in the workplace, we must believe women so that serious investigations can actually take place, we can learn the facts, and there can be appropriate accountability," she said. "That's exactly what happened at every step of this case last year. I told her that we loved her at the time and the same is true today." Read the full story. (Read more Kirsten Gillibrand stories.)

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