Farenthold accuser: Time for a ‘reckoning’ on sexual harassment

Farenthold accuser: Time for a ‘reckoning’ on sexual harassment
Lauren Greene

Lauren Greene, who alleges in a court document that Rep. Blake Farenthold sexually harassed her while she was his employee, told CNN that she believes the tide is changing on the issue of sexual harassment and assault.

“I think that what is going on right now, it’s more than a moment, I think it’s a reckoning and we’re having these conversations that have been needed to be had,” Greene told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview Monday evening.

Farenthold settled a sexual harassment complaint brought in 2014 with taxpayer money, according to a report by Politico.

In a lawsuit filed by Greene, she claimed that another staffer had said the Texas Republican had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her. She was later fired less than a month after she expressed her concerns over a hostile work environment with the congressman, according to the lawsuit filed in December 2014 in the District Court for the District of Columbia.

Greene said she started working for Farenthold as an intern and worked her way up to communications director, but that the complaint she made changed the course of her career.

“As soon as I decided to do this (file a legal complaint), I kind of had to come to the conclusion that DC was no longer going to be in the cards,” Greene said on “Anderson Cooper 360.”

Farenthold issued a statement to reporters, including CNN, following the Politico story, saying he could not confirm nor deny the settlement.

“While I 100% support more transparency with respect to claims against members of Congress, I can neither confirm nor deny that settlement involved my office, as the Congressional Accountability Act prohibits me from answering that question,” Farenthold said in the statement.

Farenthold later told CNN affiliate KRIS News in Corpus Christi, Texas, that he intended to pay back the money from the settlement to the taxpayers.

“I’m going to hand a check over this week to, probably Speaker (Paul) Ryan or somebody, and say, ‘Look, here’s the amount of my settlement. Give it back to the taxpayers.’ I want to be clear that I didn’t do anything wrong, but I also don’t want the taxpayers to be on the hook for this, and I want to be able to talk about it and fix the system without people saying, ‘Blake, you benefited from the system, you don’t have a right to talk about it or fix it,’ ” the congressman said.