Dec 5, 2017, 3:07 PM ET

Rep. Conyers announces he's retiring, endorses son to fill seat

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Facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment, veteran Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., announced he is retiring today.

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Conyers, 88, confirmed the news on Mildred Gaddis’ radio show, calling in from a hospital in Detroit while recovering for a stress-related illness.

“I am retiring today, and I want everyone to know how much I appreciate the support, the incredible, undiminished support I’ve received across the years,” he said.

His attorney, Arnold Reed, confirmed for ABC News that Conyers’ retirement was effective immediately.

Conyers said his legacy will not be affected. He has denied any sexual misconduct.

“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now,” he said. “This, too, shall pass. I want you to know that my legacy will continue through my children.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, read a statement from Conyers on the House floor after his radio interview that he notified House Speaker Paul Ryan, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder of his retirement.

“Given the totality of the circumstance, of not being afforded the right of due process in conjunction with current health conditions, and to preserve my legacy and good name, I’m retiring. I hope my retirement will be viewed in the larger perspective of my record of service as I enter a new chapter,” Lee said the statement read.

On Nov. 21, the House Ethics Committee began investigating the allegations against Conyers. The panel declined to comment on the status of its investigation on Tuesday. The committee doesn’t have jurisdiction over former House members.

Tuesday afternoon, Ryan’s office confirmed receiving Conyers’ signed letter, making the action effective.

Conyers said he is endorsing his son John Conyers III to fill his seat.

John Conyers Jr. is the first high-profile national political figure to fall in a wave of public sexual harassment allegations across the country.

A congressman since 1965, he was the longest-serving member of the House, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and a civil rights icon. He was the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee before he stepped down from it last week.

A dozen House Democrats called on Conyers to step down as Congress looked into sexual misconduct allegations against him. Pelosi said he should resign, calling the allegations "serious, disappointing and very credible."

Last week Reed said Conyers refused to be "forced out of office."

At least five women have accused Conyers of sexual harassment and inappropriate touching.

In this Nov. 1, 2014, file photo, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., speaks at Wayne State University in Detroit.AP
In this Nov. 1, 2014, file photo, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., speaks at Wayne State University in Detroit.

As recently as yesterday, a new sexual harassment accusation against him was made public.

Elisa Grubbs, a staffer for Conyers from 2001 to 2013, alleged in an affidavit dated Dec. 3 released by her lawyer Monday that he “inappropriately touched” her in church and that she witnessed him sexually harassing other female staffers. She also accused him of “regularly” undressing in front of his staff.

The first allegation came to light on Nov. 20, with news that Conyers’ office paid a female aide over $27,000 to quietly settle a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015. The woman later identified herself as Marion Brown on NBC’s “Today.”

“Some of the things he did were — it was sexual harassment, violating — violating my body, propositioning me, inviting me to hotels with the guys discussing business. Propositioning me to, you know — for sex,” she said in a Nov. 30 interview on the show.

Conyers acknowledged that his office settled a harassment complaint involving a former staffer but denied the allegations against him.

PHOTO: Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., walks down the House steps after a vote in the Capitol on Sept. 27, 2016. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images FILE
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., walks down the House steps after a vote in the Capitol on Sept. 27, 2016.

ABC News obtained court filings last Wednesday referring to a federal complaint filed this year by his former scheduler who alleged “sexual advances in the form of inappropriate comments and touches.” She dropped her case after the judge rejected her request to keep the complaint sealed to protect her privacy.

Last week another former staffer, Deanna Maher, accused Conyers of making unwanted sexual advances toward her in the 1990s. She alleged that he touched her inappropriately on at least three occasions, including once in 1999, when he allegedly placed his hands underneath her dress.

Melanie Sloan, a lawyer who worked with Conyers on the Judiciary Committee, accused him of being “increasingly abusive” to her — behavior that she said was not “sexual harassment” but “sexual discrimination.”

Ian Conyers, 29, the grandson of John Conyers Jr.’s brother, confirmed the news of the congressman’s retirement during a phone call with ABC News early Tuesday. Ian Conyers, a Michigan state senator, said that he would also seek his granduncle’s seat. The New York Times was the first to report that news.

ABC News’ Kate Hodgson, Devin Dwyer and Cindy Smith contributed to this report.

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CComments

  • Anybodysguesswhy

    His Son says he did not violently Stab the woman, or chase her and body slam her, repeatedly. Why did the woman feel the need,then, to get a Restraining Order if his version of the Story is true? A restraining order costs Money, and most people that break-up, overwhelmingly, do not need restraining orders. But, apparently Conners' sons girlfriend did, after the Stabbing incident. I don't see why she would waste the money, if she didn't feel that her Safety was in Danger.

  • Anybodysguesswhy

    What makes Anyone think that America would want another version of a man with a long history of sexual harrasment, mean treatment of employees, violence in the family, and knee-deep in denial?

  • Turned around

    “My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now,”
    Holy arrogant Batman!!

  • Lee Thompson

    It's time. He's 88. Why resist the inevitable? Time to go. Sounds like he should have gone a long time ago.

  • BigB

    Retiring? LOL, no the term you are looking for is resigning in disgrace.

  • Ivan Ivanovitch

    The whole "payoff fund" needs to be opened up, members of congress who used it exposed - who and reason, victims names redacted. Let the chips fall where they may.

  • CB

    Adios John.......Bye Bye, the worst is yet to come.......

  • pfon71361

    Rep. John Conyers Jr. took the least unpalatable path forward available to him given the seriousness of the accusations he faced. With a decades-long record of service in Congress and with his work promoting equality for minorities he achieved a lot in his time in public office. But the alarming number of reported incidents of abuse of aides and other women made continuing as congressman insupportable. By endorsing his son, John Conyers III, as his replacement, Mr. Conyers Jr. sadly perpetuates the "drain the swamp" ethos so current now. The voters of Michigan's 13th congressional district deserve a fresh voice unencumbered by association with a now regrettably tarnished and disappointing legacy.

  • patsy

    What is sick is the way he wants to continue his legacy (of perversity no doubt) by having his son succeed him He could have stepped aside with dignity but that statement was revolting in the way he admitted his intent to continue to wield power through his 27 year old son. Zero class

  • Hoyt Armstrong

    yep gotta keep it in the family

  • Rev. Futuram

    If the sexual misconduct are true, he should not be allowed to resign and should dishonorable discharge

  • Oh Really Now

    Bye Bye!

  • kritikosman

    OK, now it's your turn Trump.

  • Tony White

    60 years of being on the dole and the sudden slap away from the teet has got the Conyer family scurrying.

  • KJK

    So he 'retires' instead of 'resigns'. Sure must be some retirement money involved with this play on words. He 'retired' as soon as his past caught up with him. Now the taxpayers can pay for his 'retirement' . We get it in the rear all the time with these crooked politicians.

  • Holly

    The only legacy you're leaving behind is an example of why we need term limits.

  • Poptartsnbutter

    LOL @ "retired"

    Don't try to church it up. We all know you were pressured to resign.

  • Chase99

    The prosperity he has brought to his district will be his lasting legacy. The entire city is a monument to what one party rule can do.

  • Guy Norbury

    At lease ONE party is taking sexual harassment seriously while the other party is voting in new predators

  • Beelzebub

    Here retired when he was first elected in 1965, he just kept the office for it's "perks"...wink...wink....

  • Sue Thomason

    So now we move on with nothing much else changed in Washington.

  • Urnot Reallytolerant

    Another fine use of taxpayer dollars. And people scratch their heads when we talk about term limits.

  • Trumpet

    These guys should be forced to retire at the age of 75 ! If they don't, then start stripping their benefits away! They'll be scratching at the exit door hearing that. LMAO!

  • HelloDarkness

    What a bad idea to elect this man's son

    Like Jim Lahey says: The $l-l!t apple don't fall far from the $l-l!t tree, Ricky!

  • Verity Pendelton

    would love to know what Anita Hill is thinking now. When she testified against Clarence Thomas, no one believed her. Now we know she was probably telling the truth.

  • TexasFred

    Adios you old pervert... I hope your home state has smartened up and will have enough sense to NOT elect your Son...

  • flatrock

    I don't want to blame children for the sins of the parents, but his mother is a felon convicted of soliciting and taking bribes while on the Detroit City Council.
    His father is accused by multiple people of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual discrimination as well as misusing public funds and resources.
    His own comments at times have pretty much racist rants blaming everything on white people.
    Do we really need another Conyers in public office?