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Supporters rally, demand due process for U.S. Rep. Conyers

UPDATED: Mon., Dec. 4, 2017

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., flanked by other top Democrats, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 14, 2017. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., flanked by other top Democrats, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 14, 2017. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
By Corey Williams Associated Press

DETROIT – Prominent clergy, Detroit elected leaders and community activists said Monday they will go to Washington – if necessary – to demand due process for Rep. John Conyers, who faces allegations of sexual harassment from several former staffers.

Dozens of people attended a rally at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit.

“We don’t mind going to the White House, to the U.S. House of Representatives,” Michigan Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, D-Detroit, said. “We are demanding due process.”

The House Ethics Committee is investigating allegations of harassment and inappropriate touching by women who once worked for Conyers, including claims by Marion Brown, who could testify later this week before the committee.

Last month, BuzzFeed News reported that Conyers had settled a complaint in 2015 from a woman who alleged she was fired because she rejected his sexual advances. BuzzFeed reported that Conyers’ office paid the woman more than $27,000 in the confidential settlement.

Brown, 61, later publicly identified herself as filing the complaint and said the congressman propositioned her for sex multiple times over more than a decade.

BuzzFeed also published affidavits from former staff members who said they had witnessed Conyers touching female staffers inappropriately or requesting sexual favors.

Conyers denies the allegations and will fight them, according to his attorney Arnold Reed.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a number of other colleagues in the House have called for the 88-year-old Detroit Democrat to step down.

But some speaking at Monday’s rally in Detroit urged him not to do so.

“The congressman has called for an investigation,” Minister Malik Shabazz said. “There will be an investigation and there should not be a resignation.”

Reed said last week that Conyers was hospitalized after feeling lightheaded. It was not clear Monday if Conyers still was hospitalized. The Associated Press left a message seeking comment from Reed.

Conyers first was elected to the U.S. House in 1964. He is married to Monica Conyers, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to conspiracy to commit bribery as a member of the Detroit City Council.

John Conyers has stepped aside as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. The committee’s website still lists Conyers as a member.

Conyers is among a number of prominent men in politics, entertainment and journalism who have been accused of sexual misconduct in the wake of explosive allegations against former Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein.

“We are here for due process,” said the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit Branch of the NAACP. “We are a nation of laws. We’re calling for due process for every citizen, which also includes Congressman John Conyers, by the same body which is supposed to uphold and defend due process.”

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