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Politics

Senate Pays $900,000 to Settle Retaliation Dispute

January 4, 2019 - 6:00am
Rachel Perrin Rogers and Jack Latvala
Rachel Perrin Rogers and Jack Latvala

More than a year after sexual-harassment allegations brought down a powerful lawmaker, the Florida Senate has reached a $900,000 settlement with a legislative aide who said she was harassed and later faced retaliation.

The settlement came in a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission case filed by aide Rachel Perrin Rogers. As part of the settlement, Perrin Rogers submitted her resignation effective Friday.

The Senate denied any wrongdoing in the case, which involved Perrin Rogers’ allegations that she faced discrimination and retaliation after accusing former Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala of sexual harassment.

Katie Betta, a spokeswoman for Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, released a statement late Thursday that said an administrative law judge “recommended mediation as a solution that would bring a more timely resolution to what had already become a protracted and public employment matter.”

“President Galvano believed the matter would continue to negatively impact the parties and distract from the important work of the Senate, while legal fees mounted for all involved,” Betta said. “For those reasons, President Galvano authorized the recent mediation which led to the settlement. The settlement brings this matter to a conclusion that allows both parties to move forward.”

Perrin Rogers said in a text message that her only comment is “what was stated in my resignation letter,” which was submitted to her boss, Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby.

“Having the opportunity to assist as you’ve served your constituents has been an honor,” Perrin Rogers wrote to Simpson, who is expected to become Senate president in 2020. “I feel an immense sadness that at this time I am no longer able to do this work for you in the Senate. Thank you for your unwavering support.”

Perrin Rogers’ attorney fees will be paid from the $900,000, according to the settlement.

The resignation letter and settlement were dated Dec. 19. Senate attorneys notified a federal judge Dec. 20 about the settlement, but Betta said at the time the Senate could not release the settlement details until the EEOC case and a related lawsuit were formally resolved.

Perrin Rogers filed the complaint with the EEOC in January 2018 after a highly publicized series of events that led to the resignation of Latvala.

Perrin Rogers alleged in late 2017 that Latvala had harassed her, triggering the Senate to appoint a special master to investigate the accusations. The special master, former state appellate Judge Ronald Swanson, found probable cause to support Perrin Rogers’ allegations --- though Latvala has denied them. Perrin Rogers subsequently filed the EEOC complaint against the Senate, alleging in part that she faced retaliation.

The Senate filed a federal lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction to block an administrative law judge from requiring the Senate's participation in the EEOC case. After the settlement was reached in December, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle denied the request for a preliminary injunction because he said it was moot.

---- News Service senior writer Dara Kam contributed to this report.

Comments

Nice little grubstake for the young woman to go forward with ... and Low-Life Lavala gets off the hook as the taxpayers pick up the tab!

"Settlements",.. The bane of facts, truth, and "run-away-lawyer" focus-and-intent (with "no fault" admonition guarantees written into such "settlements"... to protect the "predatory Ogres" (..as well as "hired-gun" shyster lawyers and/or politicians).

"Special Masters" are almost always 'retired' pompous judges, appointed to "protect (and/or save) reputations" of individuals (and/or) groups affiliated politically (and/or) famously in current culture: "Truth" in often a "vague & wispy victim" in these generally monetarily-driven procedures..

Jack Latvala should take the money out of his PAC and pay the Senate back. No way should this $900,000 be on Florida taxpayers.

More scandal and malfeasance from the Republican Senate again...

Why substitute a picture of Senator Lauren Book for one of Rachel Perrin Rogers?

My error entirely. Sincere apologies to Sen. Lauren Book and Rachel Perrin Rogers. We've made the correction.

typical incompetence at SSN...

So our elected officials paid $900K in taxpayer dollars to settle a situation despite being steadfast that the Senate 'did nothing wrong'. If that is the case then every politican who signed off on this 'settlement' is guilty of malfeasance and should resign from public service for lack of integrity. Otherwise, this is just another in a long line of covers up and hush money we continue to tolerate without any consequences. The 'swamp' is not in Gainesville, it's in Tallahassee and needs to be drained.

outrageous! As a Florida taxpayer I had NOTHING to do with this harassment yet I have to pay for it. While I agree with Ms Perrin Rogers' suit, the person responsible (who was NOT acting on behalf of the State when the harassment occurred) is the one who should pay up--Latvala. Not me, or you!

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