Civil rights icon and the longest-serving current congressman John Conyers announced his retirement on Tuesday after several accusations from women that he sexually harassed them; one saying he ran his hands up her thighs in church. The 88-year-old was also discovered shelling out $27,000 in public funds as hush money to one of the women.
In the days since the allegations surfaced, Conyers has been in the hospital due to “stress” from the sudden attention. Debate raged about whether he should step down or continue serving with one of his fans, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, calling him a “patriot” and saying the decision to resign was his alone. Well, that decision was made, but Conyers wants to keep his soon-to-be vacant seat all in the family:
“My legacy can't be compromised or diminished in any way by what we're going through now. This too shall pass. I want you to know that my legacy will continue through my children. I have a great family here and especially in my oldest boy, John Conyers III who incidentally I endorsed to replace me in my seat in Congress."
Conyers’ statement on retirement read:
"Given the totality of the circumstance of not being afforded the right of due process in conjunction with current health conditions, and to preserve my legacy and good name, I am retiring. I hope my retirement will be viewed in the larger perspective of my record of service as I enter a new chapter.”
Before announcing this, Conyers planned on finishing out his term but not seek re-election. He has held his seat since he occupied it in 1965. He also served as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.