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Politics

Senate: Special Master Report on Latvala's Sexual Harassment Allegations 'Ready Next Week'

December 15, 2017 - 1:15pm
Jack Latvala
Jack Latvala

Tallahassee politicos await with bated breath the results of an investigation by the Senate Special Master into allegations of sexual harassment and groping by Sen. Jack Latvala, but they won’t have to wait much longer -- according to Senate spokesperson Katie Betta, the report will be available next week.

Senate lawyers will review the report, which will then be made public.

The investigation began last month after Politico Florida published an explosive story detailing allegations from six different women — both Democrats and Republicans — all of whom tell the same story: Latvala touched them inappropriately and made comments that made them uncomfortable. 

Top Senate legislative aide Rachel Perrin Rogers filed the complaint with the Senate Nov. 5, saying the Clearwater Republican groped her in a bar on top of verbally harassing her for four years. 

Retired judge Ronald Swanson is serving as the special master. Swanson is responsible for determining whether or not there is probable cause for the charges and is reviewing the allegations and subpoenaing witnesses as part of the Rogers-Latvala case.

Another investigation into the other five complaints is also occurring simultaneously.

Perrin Rogers’ accusations and the accounts of the other women have prompted a statewide conversation about sexual harassment in the workplace, specifically in the male-driven environment of Tallahassee. 

The women said Latvala’s intense temper was a means of intimidation and that they had to “grin and bear it” when dealing with Latvala for fear of having their projects axed. 
 
The women asked not to be identified due to possible retribution in a small “good old boy” town where many female staffers and lobbyists do not wish to speak up because they are afraid of receiving backlash or a “bad reputation” for making allegations against powerful men. 
 
In October, reports surfaced of hidden surveillance which showed Sen. Latvala kissing a female lobbyist, first on the cheek, then on the lips in the parking lot of a Tallahassee Italian restaurant. 
 
Latvala, who is married, acknowledged the kiss but shrugged it off as normal behavior. 
 
“I’m sure there are a lot of pictures of me kissing people up there, especially if I have not seen them for a while,” Latvala said. “Some people kiss on the lips.”
 
Latvala has maintained his innocence since the story broke, insisting the women were put up to falsely accuse him of sexual harassment for political reasons. 
 
“Coincidentally, of all the female Senate employees, this one happens to be the wife of a political consultant working for one of the other governor’s campaigns,” Latvala told Bay News 9 last month. “That’s just a big coincidence I’m sure.”
 
His supporters have launched a counteroffensive against the allegations, trashing the complaints against the former Senate Budget Chief since they are mostly anonymous, with the exception of Rogers.
 
Latvala’s son, state Rep. Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater, and Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-Treasure Island, were both criticized by Perrin Rogers’ attorney, Tiffany Cruz, for “condemning” Latvala’s accusers on social media.
 
“Rather than encouraging individuals who are victims of sexual harassment to come forward, anonymously or otherwise, they have taken to every avenue of social media to condemn victims,” Cruz wrote to House Speaker Richard Corcoran earlier this month. 
 
Chris Latvala routinely searches for criticisms against his father, questioning why the accusers were anonymous. 
 
Meanwhile, state senators and top legislators have called the controversy and Latvala “distracting.”
 
“It seems that everyone in Tallahassee is talking about this and not how to make Florida better,” said Gov. Rick Scott of the allegations. “It is my understanding that there's an investigation underway, and when that is complete, the Senate will have a decision to make. As I have said all along, if these allegations are true, he must resign immediately.”
 
Future Senate President and Perrin Rogers’ boss, Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, condemned Latvala’s behavior.
 
“The incidents alleged in the media are disgusting. Since mid-last week there has been a smear campaign launched against Rachel. It must end immediately,” he told Politico. “Senate Rules, Florida Statutes and federal law guarantee confidentiality in these matters. This is not a political campaign; it is about the safety and security of someone coming forward with serious allegations. If we do not protect those who speak out, we will silence other potential victims who deserve justice.”
 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen


READ MORE FROM SUNSHINE STATE NEWS

Et Tu, Latvala? Rick Scott Issues Executive Order to Combat Sexual Harassment in State Agencies

Latvala's Gubernatorial Campaign Takes Financial Hit After Sexual Harassment Allegations

 

 

Comments

It will be inconclusive and nothing major will come of it... biggest waste of time and money there could have been...

If we do not protect those who speak out, we will silence other potential victims who deserve justice... well said by Senator Simpson. I have been in Tallahassee for session for a long enough time alongside these people to know what goes on up there. Latvala is a pig. He's also a shapeshifter type where he is this caring, tears in his eyes, for the people type and then when you have contact with him off the floor, he is this gruff old bear. He creeps around too. Don't get caught alone in an elevator with him as a woman. He doesn't look at your eyes. He looks at your breast. And his son doesn't fall far from the tree. You can see that on Chis Lavalas Facebook page. He likes his young little interns. People from Pineallas forget Latvallas past in which he was a local politician and he redistricted Pineallas County because he wanted his son to go to a better school leaving thousands of people in his county in such a dilemma. His son was protected from the bad school as well as his friends kids. That is why 1/2 of the county cannot stand him. The other 1/2 Are the wealthy who carry him in campaigns and elections. He is a known bully in Tallahassee... that's no secret and he needs to go shapeshift into something more useful like care for the wife he just married last year in Maine. A Florida Senator sneaks away to marry the person he lives in sin with to keep eyes off him or a betrayal to his own state. Why not marry her at home or in a destination in Florida? Hiding something? Even his close personal friends hid stuff for him. Is it a coincidence that he married her quickly because he was trying to beat Joe Negron for Senate President? NO! And how ugly he got after the election of Negron, he became impossible to work with. Latvala needs to go back to his printing press he brags so much about having to work at so he can afford to live as if he is hurting for money. He would make a great CEO as long as he didn't have to listen to others. That's why he's the CEO of his own company. As far as Rachel Perrin Rogers is concerned, I pray she gets justice. She deserves it. As a woman, I feel her pain of being sexually harrassed in Tallahassee. It happens so often. It is an abuse of power and Latvala is so guilty. I wish I had the gonads to testify against that pig. By the way, what about Latvala's wife? How's she doing with hearing about all this regarding her new husband. He better hang onto her tight and pray for forgiveness cuz they have not been married for long. She must be so embarrassed. She is a victim too. She may not admit It, but she is.

If we do not protect those who speak out, we will silence other potential victims who deserve justice... well said by Senator Simpson. I have been in Tallahassee for session for a long enough time alongside these people to know what goes on up there. Latvala is a pig. He's also a shapeshifter type where he is this caring, tears in his eyes, for the people type and then when you have contact with him off the floor, he is this gruff old bear. He creeps around too. Don't get caught alone in an elevator with him as a woman. He doesn't look at your eyes. He looks at your breast. And his son doesn't fall far from the tree. You can see that on Chis Lavalas Facebook page. He likes his young little interns. People from Pineallas forget Latvallas past in which he was a local politician and he redistricted Pineallas County because he wanted his son to go to a better school leaving thousands of people in his county in such a dilemma. His son was protected from the bad school as well as his friends kids. That is why 1/2 of the county cannot stand him. The other 1/2 Are the wealthy who carry him in campaigns and elections. He is a known bully in Tallahassee... that's no secret and he needs to go shapeshift into something more useful like care for the wife he just married last year in Maine. A Florida Senator sneaks away to marry the person he lives in sin with to keep eyes off him or a betrayal to his own state. Why not marry her at home or in a destination in Florida? Hiding something? Even his close personal friends hid stuff for him. Is it a coincidence that he married her quickly because he was trying to beat Joe Negron for Senate President? NO! And how ugly he got after the election of Negron, he became impossible to work with. Latvala needs to go back to his printing press he brags so much about having to work at so he can afford to live as if he is hurting for money. He would make a great CEO as long as he didn't have to listen to others. That's why he's the CEO of his own company. As far as Rachel Perrin Rogers is concerned, I pray she gets justice. She deserves it. As a woman, I feel her pain of being sexually harrassed in Tallahassee. It happens so often. It is an abuse of power and Latvala is so guilty. I wish I had the gonads to testify against that pig. By the way, what about Latvala's wife? How's she doing with hearing about all this regarding her new husband. He better hang onto her tight and pray for forgiveness cuz they have not been married for long. She must be so embarrassed. She is a victim too. She may not admit It, but she is.

SO, the "Tallahassee politicos" await along with "Special Master bated breath" for Latvala's fate... We DO know this is ALL nonsense: just censure him and impeach him (just as ineffectively Alcee Hastings (Dist 20 Ft Lauderdale) was "investigated" for the same abhorrent "crime".... (Indict Lavalla, and lets see how far it gets in a "Grand Jury"...)

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