In the court of public opinion, Rep. John Conyers Jr. has a leg up on the woman with whom he settled over sexual harassment claims in 2015, the woman’s lawyer said.
While Conyers can publicly defend himself and deny the accusations swirling around him, his accuser must hold her tongue, bound to silence through a one-way confidentiality agreement, Lisa Bloom told CNN on Monday.
“He’s been speaking out, giving his side of the story — namely, that there was no sexual harassment,” Bloom said. “His attorney has been speaking out. And she is prohibited. If she violated that, she could face a breach of contract action. She could be sued. You know, she’s a regular person. She’s not a wealthy person. So she’s in fear.”
Bloom called for the House Ethics Committee to issue a subpoena, which would allow her client to come forward and tell her version of events.
Watch: Congresswoman Who Survived Jonestown Attack Now Staring Down Sexual Harassment
But that could be avoided, she added, if Conyers agrees to scrap the accuser’s confidentiality clause in the settlement.
“All I’m here to say is, Congressman Conyers, please release her to tell her side of the story,” Bloom said. “She has a powerful story to tell. You’re giving your side. It’s only fair and decent to allow her to speak as well.”
Bloom has represented a number of women who have claimed to be sexually harassed or assaulted by men of prestige, including former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and television star Bill Cosby.
But she also briefly advised Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein amid sexual assault and rape allegations against him. Bloom resigned that position after catching a wave of criticism from fellow feminists.
Conyers, 88, is the latest member of Congress to fall under public scrutiny for sexual misbehavior, a topic touched off by an October New York Times story about Weinstein’s history of harassing and assaulting women.
The Detroit Democrat, who was first elected to office in 1964, stepped down as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee on Sunday.
Conyers used congressional funds and resources to fly his mistresses into Washington; made sexual advances to women in his office; and would become angry when one of his female staffers brought her husband around, documents from multiple former employees allege.
The documents are signed affidavits from the case settled in 2015.
The former staffer was paid a roughly $27,000 settlement drawn from Conyers’ congressional office budget — not the Office of Compliance fund set aside for congressional settlements.
Bloom is the daughter of famed civil rights attorney Gloria Allred.
Allred currently represents one of the women accusing Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct when she was a teenager and he was in his 30s.