- Kimberly Kindy The Washington Post
As Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., this week weighed calls for his resignation from a Michigan hospital bed, more women were coming forward with accounts of sexual misconduct by the lawmaker.
A former office intern who spoke to The Washington Post, described new complaints about Conyers as the congressman remained hospitalized, assessing whether he would continue his 52-year run in Congress.
Los Angeles attorney Lisa Bloom made public a detailed affidavit from former Conyers staffer Elisa Grubbs. She also announced on Twitter that she had affidavits from several other women who said Conyers had sexually harassed them in previously undisclosed incidents.
Conyers was already facing a House ethics investigation and calls for him to resign from party leaders in Congress, including from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Conyers repeatedly maintained he did nothing wrong and vowed to defend himself.
Conyers' attorney Arnold Reed on Monday dismissed the new allegations as "ripple effects" created when women first stepped forward, including one who received a $27,000 settlement from the lawmaker.
"When one or two people come out, numerous other people come forward, saying, 'He did this to me. He did that to me,' " Reed said.
Courtney Morse, 36, said she was a 20-year-old college student when Conyers propositioned her. She said Tuesday that she believes he resigned to escape further scrutiny.
"It feels like an easy way out," Morse said. "He doesn't have to face an investigation now. If he is vehemently denying he did anything, then it's not about reconciling the issue. It's about protecting his legacy."
Morse told The Post she quit her internship after Conyers drove her home from work one night, wrapped his hand around hers as it rested in her lap, and told her he was interested in a sexual relationship. When she rejected his advances, Morse said he brought up the then-developing investigation into the disappearance of former federal intern Chandra Levy.
"He said he had insider information on the case. I don't know if he meant it to be threatening, but I took it that way," Morse said in an interview. "I got out of the car and ran."
She said in the first months of her internship, Conyers did nothing inappropriate. Morse said she eagerly accepted when Conyers asked her to stay on for a paid summer internship.
"He was one of those congressmen you look up to and you see as an icon," she said. "I was also working on important issues and staying meant I could continue to work on them and potentially help people."
Morse said Conyers then began buying her gifts and asked her to dine with him in the members' dining room. At the end of one work day, Morse said he offered to drive her to a residence where she was staying about 30 minutes from Capitol Hill.
"I thought it was odd that he was driving home an intern. It was out of the way, so it wasn't convenient," she said.
A few weeks later, Morse said Conyers made a sexual overture after driving her home from work a second time.
When she rejected his advances, Morse said she felt intimidated because he brought up the investigation into Levy's disappearance.
At the time, the case of the missing intern, who was allegedly having an affair with Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., was under investigation by police. Condit was eventually cleared after authorities charged a suspect with Levy's murder.
During Morse's internship, she stayed with the family of Matthew Salomon, who backed up her accounts of what happened with Conyers, including the encounter in the lawmaker's car.
Salomon said he approached the car to confront Conyers, but he said the congressman drove away. Reed did not respond to questions about the encounter.
Days later, Morse returned home to Ohio, cutting short her internship by two to three weeks.
Although Bloom said she had affidavits from several new Conyers accusers, she released only the Grubbs affidavit.
Grubbs — who worked for Conyers from 2001 to 2013 — said Conyers would sit "close to me while stroking and rubbing my thighs." Grubbs said on one occasion, as the two sat in the front row of a church, Conyers slid his hand up her skirt and rubbed her thighs.
Grubbs said another incident took place at Conyers's home. She said Conyers "came out of the bathroom completely naked while he knew I was in the room."
Grubbs also said she witnessed similar incidents involving former staffer Marion Brown, who is her cousin, who was paid $27,000 in a 2015 sexual harassment settlement with Conyers' office. Grubbs said he would refer to them as the "Big Leg Cousins."
Conyers' resignation on Tuesday was immediate, and it effectively ends the House ethics inquiry.