Washington, DC -- Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) on Monday sent a letter to the Inspector General of the Smithsonian Institution, Cathy Helm, calling on Smithsonian officials to rectify the severe mishandling of a confirmed case of sexual assault. In the letter, Rep. Speier calls on the Smithsonian to immediately open an investigation into the organization’s sexual misconduct policies and procedures, and asks that they provide the survivor with the tape recorded interviews with Smithsonian officials that she has requested.
Rep. Speier writes that Smithsonian officials refused to assist the survivor, claiming she had not made an official report despite the fact that she and her adviser reported the attack in writing to Smithsonian’s equal employment opportunity specialist. Smithsonian officials also refused the survivor’s request that the perpetrator be kept away from her, claiming the perpetrator was a “great scientist” and there was “only one” incident. Smithsonian officials have also failed to accommodate the survivor’s repeated requests to turn over two recordings made during separate meetings with Smithsonian staff regarding the assault.
“The behavior of Smithsonian officials in this case has ranged from incompetent to actively complicit. If no Smithsonian policies were violated in this case, as the Inspector General has stated, then the policies are grossly inadequate and must be changed. Moreover, refusing to provide the survivor with tapes of her own interviews with Smithsonian staff smacks of a cover-up,” Rep. Speier said. “Such abhorrent behavior cannot be tolerated. The Smithsonian must immediately turn over the tapes requested by the survivor, and it must take meaningful steps to address the numerous failures of their sexual misconduct policies and procedures.”
A copy of the letter can be found here.