TALLAHASSEE — South Florida Democratic Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, filed a complaint with the Senate Rules Committee yesterday alleging that Republican Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, had deliberately revealed the identity of Rachel Perrin Rogers, one of the six women who accused him of sexual assault, in an attempt to intimidate her.
“I became aware that Sen. Latvala was feeding this complainant’s identity to media outlets in an effort to out her and intimidate her and others. I knew I needed to do something,” Book told the Sun Sentinel.
“I knew that other individuals wouldn’t feel safe coming forward if somebody didn’t put a stop to that behavior or call it out for what it is. It’s threatening, it’s wrong, it’s conduct unbecoming a senator or any human being.”
Latvala, who has denied the charges against him, says Book’s complaint is “guerrilla warfare” and an attempt to undermine him.
The senator, who is running for governor, said he has yet to see the complaint and that Book had violated Senate rules by going public before the matter could be reviewed by the committee.
The six women who have accused Latvala, all of whom work in the state Capitol, claim that senator groped them and made misogynistic remarks about their bodies.
Latvala’s one named accuser, Rogers, works as an aide to Republican Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson.
Latvala has attempted to defend himself by saying that he’s never had a complaint filed against him in the sixteen years he’s served in the Senate.
Yet his defense wilts a little if you consider that last year, the senator, who is married, was photographed kissing a lobbyist on the lips in public.
In fact, many of his Republican colleagues have declined to come to his aide. Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz told Politico Florida that Latvala is known as an “absolute hound” with women.
“He’s a hound. I mean, everyone in Tallahassee knows that Jack Latvala is an absolute hound,” said Gaetz. “Jack believes that his power as a legislator gives him some special power with women. And, there are times when it’s clearly unrequited.”
Another Senate staffer alleges that Latvala once approached her at a bar “and started rubbing my leg. I could not tell you what he was saying because I was sitting there crying. It’s not like he came up and consoled me for crying. I started crying after he came up to me and started touching me.”
On another occasion, she said, “He reached around the far side of my body and just started grabbing. His hand went around my back and grabbed me around my lower frontal abdomen and then wandered. He touched the underside of my breast on that side.”
“I jumped and might have said something like ‘whoa,’ but before I could react any further, the elevator ride was over,” she added.
A Democratic lobbyist recounted, “He would brush against my boob, cup my ass with his hand. But it was in a crowd. So it was in public but somehow it was so people couldn’t see.”
“Was it a level where you could file a complaint? No. Was it a dick move that a man in control does to you when he knows you need him? Yes. He uses his power as budget chairman to either torture or reward people for their behavior,” she added. “If you’re not in his good graces, he will kill your client. He just demeans you and degrades you … He’s a dirty old man and there are a lot of dirty old men in the Capitol.”