Florida state senator resigns amid sexual misconduct claims

Senator Jack Latvala has resigned after a report from a Senate special master found probable cause to believe he inappropriately touched a former aide, the Miami Herald is reporting. "Unfortunately, except in the one instance where there were third party witnesses, the Special Master took the word of the accuser over mine on every count", Latvala wrote in a letter Wednesday to Senate President Joe Negron.

A November report form Politico first detailed allegations from Rachel Perrin Rogers, an aide to Senate GOP Leader Wilton Simpson of Trilby, Florida. "My political adversaries have latched onto this effort to rid our country of sexual harassment to try to rid the Florida Senate of me".

The special master said that though Latvala had been through sexual harassment training, he did not recognize that those types of comments were offensive and recommended Latavala be sanctioned for violating Senate rules.

Latvala has maintained that the charges against him are fabrications. Jack Latvala finds a complaint he inappropriately touched a woman on several occasions is likely true. But, I have had enough.

"Further, given the seriousness of the allegations and the findings in the reports, I have directed my campaign and political committee to make a sponsorship donation in the amount of $50,000 from Saving Florida's Heartland, as well as $12,000 from my Agriculture Commissioner campaign account to the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence", she stated.

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Many called on Latvala to resign, including Governor Rick Scott. Resigning is the best thing he can do now for his constituents, colleagues and the state, " said Scott in an emailed statement to WJCT News. Perrin Rogers accused Latvala of inappropriate touching in a Capitol elevator, at a private club and other occasions. The report said the allegations were backed up by text messages that were not included in the document.

Negron released a statement saying Negron made the "right decision".

Investigators found additional women who indicated Latvala had a habit of telling dirty jokes and suggesting he would trade support for legislation in exchange for sexual favors.

"It has been my honor to serve my constituents in the Tampa Bay area in the Florida Senate for 15 of the last 23 years", Latvala's letter says.

  • Sonia Alvarado