Ives: Silverstein 'abused his position and authority'
Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) expressed disgust in response to allegations by activist Denise Rotheimer that Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) sexually harassed her while they worked together on a bill.
“He abused his position and authority for personal gratification," Ives said in a news release. "He used Ms. Rotheimer’s ambition in an attempt to coerce sexual favors. His behavior is reprehensible, beneath his office and, most importantly, illegal.”
Rotheimer, founder of Mothers on a Mission to Stop Violence, spoke at a House Personnel and Pensions Committee hearing on sexual harassment about the complaint she brought against Silverstein a year ago in which she said he used "power" and "mind games" that made her uncomfortable and stressed. Rotheimer has worked on previous legislation advocating on behalf of victims of sexual assault. She and Silverstein were working on another bill for the same cause.
“I thank Ms. Rotheimer for her courage in coming forward,” Ives said. “Sexual harassment is a degrading, diminishing experience and a form of sexual discrimination. No doubt it was difficult to come forward knowing the potential backlash she would face.”
Ives accused House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) of ignoring the need for harassment legislation until it was a good move politically.
Ives shared her experiences with men who tried to harass her while she was a cadet at West Point and while working in Springfield.
“I dealt with it,” Ives said. “And it didn’t happen again. That, however, is different than Ms. Rotheimer’s experience, in which someone who had power over her career used that power for his personal pleasure.”
Ives blamed the culture in the Illinois House, which tolerates similar behavior by men in power. Ives, who recently announced she is considering challenging Gov. Bruce Rauner in the GOP primary, urged the General Assembly to prioritize a change in behavior and set an example for other industries.