Washington (CNN) - The conservative legal watchdog group Judicial Watch filed suit Monday against Florida Democratic congressman Alcee Hastings, accusing him of sexually harassing a onetime female staffer during an assignment to Vienna, Austria.
The civil case filed at U.S. District Court in Washington is on behalf of Winsome Packer, who not only alleges the congressman sexually harassed her but claims that her affiliation with the Republican Party was used against her when Hastings retaliated following her complaints.
Hastings responded to the announcement of the lawsuit with a statement:
“My comments will be limited since I have not seen the complaint filed in U.S. District Court by Judicial Watch. I have seen a draft complaint prepared by my accuser that contains numerous inaccuracies and untruths.
“I have never sexually harassed anyone. In fact, I am insulted that these ludicrous allegations are being made against me. When all the facts are known in this case, the prevailing sentiment will be, ‘How bizarre!’
“I will win this lawsuit. That is a certainty. In a race with a lie, the truth always wins. And when the truth comes to light and the personal agendas of my accusers are exposed, I will be vindicated.”
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton, at a news conference announcing the lawsuit, said the alleged harassment took place for more than two years, ending in early 2010 when she left a staff job with a panel known as the Helsinki Commission, based in Vienna, Austria.
Hastings at the time was chairman of that group, formally known as the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Quoting from the lawsuit, Fitton, seated alongside Packer, told reporters Hastings "was sexually attracted to Ms. Packer, wanted a sexual relationship with her, and would help progress her career if she acquiesced to his sexual advances."
Reading from a prepared statement, Packer said in part "if Congressman Hastings thought the laws didn't apply to him, this lawsuit will remind him otherwise."
Fitton said during a period starting in January, 2008, Packer's repeated complaints were ignored and that Hastings allegedly refused to stop unwanted behavior. Fitton said Hastings and his staff director Fred Turner, then retaliated against Packer threatening to dismiss her and to refuse to let her return to the U.S.
"Ms. Packer was particularly vulnerable to such threats because she was a Republican working for the Democratically-controlled commission," Fitton said, "a point that both Mr. Hastings and Mr. Turner used to threaten and intimidate her."
Judicial Watch seeks unspecified monetary damages against Hastings, Turner, and the commission, with all three parties named as defendants.
Hastings, a former federal judge, was removed by the U.S. Senate in 1989 on findings of bribery and perjury.
Fitton, when asked whether other people on staff were subjected to the alleged behavior, said Packer was the only known target of Hastings' alleged harassment.