State Rep. Rick Staples (D-TN-15) resigned from a leadership position in the House following allegations of sexual harassment, multiple media outlets have reported.
Staples, of Knox County, on Thursday resigned as assistant House minority leader but will continue to represent Knoxville, WATE said.
“I have already publicly apologized for any distress I unintentionally caused. I have decided to step down from my leadership position of Assistant House Minority Leader so I can end the unwarranted suffering on my family, continue to serve my constituents unimpeded and end any distractions this may bring to the Tennessee House,” Staples said in a released statement. “I look forward to following the recommendations of the Ethics Committee and pledge to remain the best servant to my constituency of District 15. I’ll have no further comment going forward on this matter.”
Tennessee legislative sources say a woman filed a sexual harassment complaint against Rep. Staples with the House Ethics Committee. Staples is also a member of that committee.
House Republican Caucus Chair Cameron Sexton implied last week that Democratic leaders did not immediately take action on the complaint against Staples, and added that could be a violation, WKRN reported. House Democrat Caucus Chair Mike Stewart denied that accusation.
The House biography for Staples, an account executive, says he is single and has four children.
The House Workplace Discrimination and Harassment Subcommittee sent a letter to House Speaker Glen Casada’s office on the matter, WREG reported. The subcommittee told Staples to take actions avoid another violation and to report back to the subcommittee.
The representative previously said he was sorry his behavior was perhaps misinterpreted and said he was not being investigated, WREG said.
He also said then, “I am under no investigation at this point. I have not been found guilty of anything. Unfortunately, this is being used as a tool and an avenue for political character assassination.”
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.