Florida congressman sued for alleged sexual harassment
March 7th, 2011
03:58 PM ET
12 years ago

Florida congressman sued for alleged sexual harassment

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.

Filed under: Alcee Hastings • Democrats • Florida
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. ConservaFascists/F.U.B.A.R.

    i don't know why it took 2 years to sue. It sounds like a smear campaign.

    March 7, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. jules sand-perkins

    Alleging isn't proving.

    March 7, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  3. Duck Fallas

    Duh, "Winnie"

    March 7, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    The wealthy and powerful, tend not to be, very nice people.

    March 7, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  5. w l jones

    Not to hasty! Congress...Hasty.

    March 7, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Rosslaw

    Keep moving, folks, nothing to see here.

    March 7, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  7. bw1968

    I ain't sayin' she's a gold-digger...

    March 7, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  8. gt

    this is not the first time this perv has been in trouble with the law.... retiire you old man...

    March 7, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  9. willie floyd

    Just curious as to why she allowed it to go on for 2 yrs.??

    March 7, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  10. Patrick from Minnesota

    This isn't something you sue for. This is someting you prosecute for.

    March 7, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. ...

    Something smells fishy...

    March 7, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  12. dumbasrocks [R]s

    This alleged harrasment started in 2008, and she's just now getting around to complaining about it? And WHO filed the suit? Not the woman herself, but a known uber-partisan [R] operation.....just how blatantly political can this get? Follow the money...how much is this witch being paid to be the poster-child for a political hack-job....sounds like the whore's for sale. And like Paula Jones, how quick will Judicial Watch drop this hag to the floor once the lawsuit gets all the negative publicity it can and then goes nowhere in the courts? Why are [R]s so unabashedly RETARDED...do they have NO honor at all? Their ineptitude would be funny except they are a blight on our fine country. What a malignant buch of political puss.

    March 7, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. DemoCommunists for a Better Way - Bankruptcy

    So a Democrat that was removed from the bench for bribery and perjury is now a Florida congressman! Talk about the bottom of the bottom of the barrel!! Typical Democrat i guess. Wants to pass all sorts of laws to restrict OUR liberties but doesn't seem to think those laws apply to him. Do the Democrats have ANY standards when it comes to people in their party? Apparently NOT.

    March 7, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  14. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Gaylon, Gaylon, Gaylon. You are so far out of reality, you really need to put the pipe down, and turn off Fox media.

    March 7, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. dumbasrocks [R]s

    Hey Democommunists...., you are a glowing Teatard. You geneticaly diminished beings on the [R]ight have the unmitigated gall to claim no standards for being in the [D] party? Look around at the malignant ilk that wants to lead your [R] party: seccessionists, anti-science tinfoil hatters, conspriacy birth-baggers, quitters, goofy people that lick their own nether-regions so much it takes them 7 years and multiple colleges to get a degree, anti-government terrorists, child molestors, child killers.... You lost that argument before you even got out of bed this morning to tend to your still - and you don't even have the brains to realize it.

    March 7, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |