Sheila Jackson Lee steps down from leadership posts after lawsuit

/ CBS/AP

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is stepping down from two high-profile leadership posts following a lawsuit from a former employee who complained that her sexual assault complaint had been mishandled.

Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat, is stepping down from her position as chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and she will also step aside from one of the House Judiciary Committee's key subcommittees.

Former CBC chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond told CBS News that Jackson Lee stepped down as head of the foundation because "she wanted to spend all of her time making sure that she defended herself and protected the reputation that she's built over the years and devote her attention to clearing up this matter."

Richmond also said he's spoken with Jackson Lee a "couple of times," and she said that "the allegations in the case are not true, and…she felt that she needed to not put the foundation in jeopardy, but to spend her time making sure that she devoted adequate time to it to make sure that her body of work is not tarnished over an allegation."

Jackson Lee's office and the CBC Foundation are being sued by a former foundation intern who said was wrongfully fired and retaliated against when she threatened to sue the foundation after another employee raped her while he was her supervisor.

Earlier, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler had said it was Jackson Lee's decision to step aside as chairwoman of the House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee "to ensure the subcommittee's important work continues."

In a statement last week, Jackson Lee's office denied allegations that it retaliated against the woman who filed the lawsuit.

With reporting by Rebecca Kaplan

First published on January 24, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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