NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Among the many developments Thursday in the fallout from a scathing report about Rep. Jeremy Durham, House Speaker Beth Harwell said she has already signed off on a new sexual harassment policy for her members.
It comes in the wake of a Tennessee Attorney General’s investigation released Wednesday that found multiple allegations of sexual harassment and sexual impropriety against Durham who was previously in a House leadership position for House Republicans before reports surfaced critical of his Capitol Hill behavior.
Harwell told reporters late Thursday morning the new policy has been worked on for several months.
She initiated the review of the legislature’s 19-year-old policy earlier this year after the initial reports of Durham’s alleged sexual harassment surfaced.
Harwell told reporters that training about sexual harassment for all Capitol Hill personnel would be part of an updated policy.
She said there would also a better way of reporting sexual harassment without fear of retaliation.
“We needed to update the terminology in today’s world,” she told reporters. “We are including more people they [victims] can report to so they can make a report to their immediate supervisor, to clerks or go the human resources agency, or the Tennessee Sexual Assault Center in the House version.”
Minutes before Harwell detailed the House version of the new sexual harassment policy, the Tennessee Democratic Party and a group recruiting women to be in politics continued an onslaught of criticism against the speaker for her handling of Durham’s allegations, which began as rumors whispered on Capitol Hill.
After, various aged women read parts of the Durham report out loud.
It included one reference to a woman recounting the lawmaker asking her out of a drink.
She said in the Attorney General’s report by saying, “I reminded him he was married and I was engaged. She said Durham responded, “Welcome to Capitol Hill.”
Tennessee Democratic Party chair Mary Mancini blasted her counterparts again saying, “by doing nothing for the better part of the year…the Republican [House] leadership helped to perpetuate this harassing behavior.”
Following that, Republican Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey told reporters in a wide ranging interview that “when someone like Jeremy Durham says ‘welcome to Capitol Hill,’ it makes you want to smack him in the mouth because that is not the way it is, it really isn’t.”
Reporter Chris Bundgaard will have the latest on this story coming up at 5 p.m.