Houston state Rep. Jolanda Jones criticized her former staffers in a new statement Wednesday for publicizing the name of an intern who they alleged was having an inappropriate relationship with Jones’ son and for making assumptions about his mental health.
Jones’ chief of staff Kory Haywood, legislative director Catherine “Cat” Mouer and district director Yesenia Wences, in a four-page resignation letter leaked to the media last week, accused Jones of covering up the relationship and using public resources for personal reasons, among other allegations.
The House General Investigating Committee is looking into the allegations, Jones said in her latest statement.
“I welcome that investigation and look forward to being vindicated of any wrong doing,” she said, adding she would not speak directly to the allegations so as not to impede the committee’s work.
Jones last week had not responded to the letter other than to say that the staffers must have “decided this job is not for them” and to wish them luck in future endeavors.
But in her statement Wednesday, which she said would be her last on the matter, Jones said she has since spoken to the intern and learned the intern “categorically denies any wrongdoing or participation in any inappropriate relationship with my son.”
“I cannot sit quietly and allow members of my staff to be wrongfully publicly identified, denigrated and demeaned at the hands of former employees,” Jones said. “Regardless of any political capital that I may lose through this matter, I will not allow this young promising professional to be given a scarlet letter.”
Jones added that the intern, who is 26, permitted Jones to share that she is a survivor of sexual assault and understands what constitutes harassment and abuse “all too well.”
“The inclusion of her name in these allegations have caused a revictimization and retraumatization of her,” Jones said.
Despite the staffers’ allegation about a problematic age gap, Jones added her son is five years older than the intern, who has a graduate degree and is working on her doctorate.
Jones said her son, who did not respond to requests for comment by Hearst Newspapers, also denies having an inappropriate relationship. She said she was “outraged” the staffers would make assumptions about her son’s mental health “without any documentation to substantiate this claim.”
See here for the background. As before, all I know is what’s in these stories. That said, this was a pretty strong response from Rep. Jones. Perhaps there will be more information to come out, either from the former staffers or as a result of that House General Investigating Committee review. If not, I’m inclined to agree with her that there’s nothing more to be said.