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Jack Latvala resigns from FL Senate after investigation finds credible evidence of sexual misconduct

Posted at 3:10 PM, Dec 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-20 23:33:07-05

Senator Jack Latvala has resigned after a Senate investigation found it's likely Latvala inappropriately touched a top Senate aide. 

Florida's governor and attorney general called on Latvala to resign Wednesday. Latvala had originally said he wouldn't make a decision about his future until after Christmas.

Latvala's resignation letter was sent to President Negron on Wednesday. In the letter, Latvala said "I have never intentionally dishonored my family, my constituents or the Florida Senate."

Florida senator likely touched woman inappropriately according to report

A former Chief Legislative Assistant, Rachel Perrin Rogers testifies Senator Jack Latvala started sexually harassing her in 2013, making unwanted comments about her "clothing, breasts and legs" on multiple occasions.

She claims Latvala made "growling sounds" as he looked her up and down at Florida’s Capitol Building. 

Rogers also says the former Senator from Clearwater "rubbed her thigh area" while at a social event and "grabbed her midsection" and touched the underside of her breasts.

On October 9th of 2017, Rogers claims Latvala squeezed her private area on an elevator at the Capitol causing her to yell and him to "chuckle.” 

Rogers also testifies she witnessed Latvala grope other women too including a lobbyist.

The 33 page report contains sworn testimony from Rogers and says there is probable cause for further investigation. 

Judge Ronald Swanson, appointed Special Master, says Latvala may have violated state corruption laws offering legislative favors in exchange for sexual contact and has referred the case to prosecutors.

In the resignation letter, Latvala maintained his innocence. He said "I have maintained that the charges in the original complaint are fabrications and say that still today. 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 county. He also went outside the realm of the original complaint and unknown to me introduced an entirely new issue into the process that I had no ability to challenge or rebut."

"He did the right thing by resigning," Governor Rick Scott said.

The Governor must now set a special election for the open seat.

Read his full resignation letter here. 

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says Latvala failed to respect the confidentiality of the accuser's name during the course of the investigation, creating a chilling effect on other victims. 

ABC Action News spoke with a woman who now warns others about workplace sexual harassment. Rena Romano says failing to protect privacy will discourage other victims from coming forward. 

"If healing begins by telling, we must make telling safe and outing these victims, survivors, they’re already dealing with the shame," said Romano. "They call it sexual misconduct but when you’re the victim of this situation, this is torture. Absolute torture."