An employee of the Illinois legislature came forward Wednesday with multiple allegations of sexual harassment and bullying against House Speaker Michael Madigan's longtime chief of staff.
Sherri Garrett, an account technician and minutes clerk in Madigan's office, revealed the allegations against Tim Mapes in a news conference in Chicago, saying she chose to speak out "because we have a serious and pervasive problem in our state government, and I could no longer remain silent about my own mistreatment."
Garrett detailed several allegations of harassment by Mapes, who also serves as the clerk of the Illinois House and the executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois, which Madigan chairs.
Beginning in spring 2013, Garrett said she reported former state Rep. Ken Dunkin for making inappropriate comments after he told her and another woman, "I want to take both of you home and see which one will be the naughtiest."
After reporting the incident, Garrett said she heard that Mapes' response was that it would "blow over," leading her to believe he would not take appropriate action.
In December 2014, Garrett said Mapes told her she needed to make sure she was not showing her "pink bra" because he "knows how us girls on the second floor like to leave little to the imagination."
Garrett said she was approached in September 2015 by another female employee who had been harassed by an unnamed lawmaker, and when Garrett asked Mapes to speak to the legislator, he responded by asking, "Are you reporting the situation because you are upset the Representative isn’t paying attention to you?"
Garrett detailed a fourth alleged incident a few weeks ago in which Mapes said another individual "wouldn’t do something because the person was married," before looking to her and adding, "We know that doesn't matter around here, does it, Sherri?"
Garrett said she responded with a statement about the legislature's "reputation," at which point she alleged Mapes said he was "not implying" that she was "running around" on her husband.
In April, Garrett said she heard Mapes jokingly ask a colleague if they were going to "sex training," which Garrett said was making light of the harassment training at a time in which "this training is so critical."
Finally, on the day of the State of the State address in January of this year, when many in Springfield wore black in solidarity with the #TimesUp movement against sexual harassment, Garrett said Mapes wore navy blue and commented that he did so "because there’s not a woman on the House floor that would want me to tell them what to wear."
Mapes "has an inordinate amount of power in this state," Garrett said in a statement, adding that "the Speaker’s Office, which he helms, is charged with leading the effort to reform the system to address concerns like mine. They should be held to the highest standard."
Garrett's allegations came just days after a female activist accused House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang of years of harassment and intimidation, resulting in his resignation from his leadership post.
Mapes is the third high-ranking member of Madigan's political circle to be accused of harassment in recent months, and as chief of staff, the most senior member of the powerful speaker's organization to face allegations of inappropriate conduct.
In February, a former Madigan staffer brought forth allegations of harassment against Kevin Quinn, a high-ranking political operative that the speaker announced the day before had been terminated amid the growing scandal.
His accuser, Alaina Hampton, later filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the powerful lawmaker's political committee and the Democratic Party of Illinois ignored her complaints of inappropriate conduct and retaliated against her for bringing them forward.
Just days after Hampton came forward, a second high-ranking aide to Madigan, Shaw Decremer, was quietly removed from his organization over allegations of misconduct.
Garrett said Wednesday that she planned to file a complaint with the Legislative Inspector General.
A spokesman for Mapes and Madigan did not immediately respond to request for comment.