Florida Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater) is facing allegations of sexual misconduct from six women, Politico reports.
Latvala is being accused by several women who work in the state Legislature of inappropriately touching them without consent or making demeaning comments about their bodies. The accusations come months after Latvala threw his name in the race for governor.
All six women have remained anonymous, which is not uncommon for victims of sexual harassment or misconduct who might fear retaliation. Latvala has denied the allegations, accusing Politico of being “fake news.”
The women have accused the state senator of misconduct over the course of several years, including nonconsensual touching of their buttocks or other private areas of their bodies. Accusers also said they felt degraded due to Latvala’s comments on their weight and breast size.
One accuser said the senator would grunt in her ear during prolonged hugs that left her feeling humiliated.
“You don’t force your kids to hug relatives and kiss relatives, and this is why,” one of the women, a fellow Republican who has worked with Latvala in the Florida Senate, told Politico. “There are other senators, male and female, who I hug and kiss on the cheek on a regular basis, but they’ve never touched the places on my body where only my bikini touches.”
In response to the allegations, Latvala told Politico, “I’m sure that you have handpicked people and you are going to let anonymous people have this kind of impact on the career of a guy who has been there for 16 years,”
Politico’s Florida bureau chief, Matt Dixon, tweeted another response from Latvala’s campaign informing the publication that he “will take all legal actions necessary to clear [his] name.”
Latvala also questioned the timing of the accusations, which were not formally reported, to coincide with his run for governor.
Since the bombshell reports against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, men and women alike have been more vocal in sharing stories of sexual harassment. Powerful men such as director James Toback, NPR editor Michael Oreskes, New Republic publisher Hamilton Fish, and actors Kevin Spacey and Danny Masterson have been accused recently of sexual misconduct, ranging from harassment to assault.