WASHINGTON — A former staffer to John Conyers says the Michigan congressman made unwanted sexual advances that included partially undressing in front of her in a hotel room and inappropriate touching, the latest sexual misconduct allegations against the longest-serving member of the House.

Deanna Maher, 77, who ran a Michigan office for Conyers from 1997 to 2005, told The Associated Press Tuesday that the first incident occurred in 1997 during a three-day Congressional Black Caucus event in Washington, which she said she “felt honored” to attend.

Maher said while she was in the bedroom of a hotel suite, Conyers walked in, called room service and ordered sandwiches. “I had my nightclothes on,” said Maher, who now lives in the Holland area in western Michigan. “I was just scared to death. I was married at the time. He sat in the bedroom taking his clothes off. I didn’t say anything and he didn’t say anything.”

Nothing happened between them, she added.

“He didn’t go naked. He was down to his skivvies,” Maher said. “He sat there eating sandwiches and then he stormed out and slammed the door. I was so embarrassed and ashamed of myself for being so stupid. I needed a job.”

“He didn’t put his hand on me, but the message was loud and clear,” she said.


The House Ethics Committee is investigating allegations against Conyers, who has denied the accusations and refused to resign. He announced Sunday that he would step aside as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Separately Tuesday, the House’s top Democrat said in a letter to the ethics panel that it should move quickly with its inquiry.

“We are at a watershed moment for our country in the fight against sexual harassment and discrimination,” wrote Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat. “The Committee on Ethics has a great responsibility to proceed expeditiously as well as fairly into any investigation of credible harassment and discrimination allegations.”

Conyers was first elected in 1964 and was one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Conyers met with the caucus in Washington Tuesday and afterward the group’s chairman declined to say if he’d urged Conyers to resign his seat. “That’s a personal decision for him and his family,” Rep. Cedric Richmond told reporters. Asked if he thinks Conyers will make the right decision, Richmond said, “He always does.”

Some of the Detroit Democrat’s House colleagues are calling for him to end his more than 50 years as a lawmaker.Democrat Kathleen Rice of New York was joined Tuesday by U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal from Washington state in calling for Conyers to step down. “This is a watershed moment where, finally, the country seems to be waking up and realizing we need to have a zero tolerance policy toward sexual harassment,” Jayapal said in a statement. “We cannot pick and choose.”

“…It is not easy for me to reach this conclusion because, as a civil rights activist, I have looked up to Rep. Conyers for decades. I believe these women, I see the pattern and there is only one conclusion – Mr. Conyers must resign,” she said.

An aide to a member of the Congressional Black Caucus said that “members of the CBC are split” on whether Conyers should step down. Indeed, the aide said their boss believes that it would be premature for Conyers to step down. The lawmaker believes the Ethics Committee should proceed with its investigation and “let the process play out.”

The aide says there is “in no way, shape or form a unified approach” within the CBC on Conyers.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.