Senator files complaint over Latvala's conduct

An independent investigation was ordered into sexual misconduct allegations against Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala (Associated Press)

In the latest development in a sexual-harassment investigation that has roiled the Capitol, Democratic Sen. Lauren Book said late Tuesday she has filed a complaint alleging that Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, improperly took steps to “out” a staff member who has accused him of harassment.

Book, D-Plantation, issued a statement saying she filed the complaint with Senate Rules Chairwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers.

It accuses Latvala of misconduct in his handling of the sexual harassment allegations made by Senate staff member Rachel Perrin Rogers.

“This was a difficult decision, as I have truly admired and respected Senator Latvala for many years,” Book said in the statement. “However, after great thought and deliberation, I knew this was the right thing to do for myself, for Ms. Perrin Rogers, and for all others who may wish to come forward on this or other such grounds. While the senator is entitled to a fair hearing and has a right to defend himself during the normal course of the investigation, it is not ever OK to make attempts to `out' a complainant, or to publicly attack or shame them with character assassination --- things Senator Latvala has unfortunately and clearly done through various media outlets.”

Latvala has vehemently denied harassing Perrin Rogers and other unidentified women who were cited in a Politico Florida report last month.

The allegations have led to investigations by a Senate special master and a Tampa attorney and a series of contentious disclosures in the news media as Latvala has defended himself against accusations that he groped Perrin Rogers on several occasions and made lewd comments about her body.

Latvala on Monday blamed critics for trying to force him out of office.

“The rush to judgment is among people who really don't want the process to finish.

They want me to be tried and convicted before we have the information presented.

You know, I am just an old and ornery-enough guy that I am not going to let that happen,” he said.