BATON ROUGE, La. (10/08/19) — Tuesday in a press conference with watchdog group Truth in Politics, Juanita Washington, a former employee of Governor John Bel Edwards made a plea for an apology and admittance of wrongdoing by the governor.
Washington alleges Governor Edwards knew she was being sexually harassed and assaulted by his former Chief of Staff and her immediate supervisor Johnny Anderson. She also claims the governor knew of Anderson’s history of sexual assault prior to his employment.
“He hired him as political payback just one good ole boy scratching the back of another,” she said.
Governor Edwards responded to Washington’s claims saying they were false and he took quick action to right the wrong by changing the way the state approaches sexual harassment cases with new policies.
“When there was an allegation or a complaint brought to me, within hours Mr. Anderson’s employment terminated,” said the governor.
Louisiana women legislators took to a press conference of their own Tuesday afternoon backing the governor saying Washington’s testimony surfacing now is not only untrue but damaging to Washington.
“What it’s saying to women right now to women in Louisiana, you can come forward, someone can correct it but we’ll come to you two years later when it serves our political advantage and exploit you even further,” said Representative Katrina Jackson.
Political Analyst Joshua Stockley says at this time, the sexual harassment allegations most likely won’t change much because most voters have already decided who they support.
“I’m not diminishing the seriousness of the allegation, other than it would appear at this time that the governor’s office, several years ago, took the necessary steps to remove this individual from office.”Joshua Stockley, Professor of Politics at ULM
However, if there isn’t a flat out winner come election night that’s when Stockley believes these allegations could become problematic.
“If we have a run-off and this lawsuit continues to linger, yeah, I think there is a long term potential for some negative influence on the governor’s race,” he said.
Tina Vanichchagorn, the governor’s Executive Counsel says after Johnny Anderson was fired Washington was offered her job back but she declined. Washington has since released a statement saying that was false.
“That’s a lie. I never spoke to Matthew Block, and nobody from the Office of the Governor ever contacted me. They continue to be dishonest, and this was just one more opportunity to discredit me and victim shame.”Juanita Washington, Victim of sexual assault