Former Republican Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives Jeff Hoover allegedly assaulted a female policy analyst over fifty times starting in 2015.
The full allegations became public yesterday when a copy of a sealed deposition was obtained by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and Kentucky Public Radio.
Hired to “to keep Jeff Hoover happy.”
In the leaked copy of her October 2018 deposition testimony, the woman identified only as Jane Doe says Hoover regularly assaulted her while she worked for him. When she was hired in 2015 she was told by a senior staffer her job was “to keep Jeff Hoover happy.”
The testimony of the then 21-year-old staffer describes a life of inappropriate comments and unwanted physical contact.
“Constantly on our way to the Capitol he would grope me in the elevator,” she said.
In total she estimated Hoover assaulted her at least 50 times.
Because of Hoover’s position of power and influence she was afraid of challenging him over his behaviour.
“I knew by doing so that I would be ending my career in politics,” she said, “because he controlled it.
“I didn’t know what to do because he was my boss,” she continued. “He was coming on to me and I didn’t know how to handle it. I had no choice.”
Hoover could be extremely possessive of his Doe’s attentions. When he learned she once met privately with a male staffer he was outraged.
“And that evening Jeff Hoover had called me on my cell phone and was screaming at me,” Doe said. “I didn’t need to be behind closed doors with other men, even though I was behind closed doors with [Hoover] regularly.”
Hoover has admitted to exchanging “inappropriate text messages” with Doe, but denies all other allegations.
Hoover and his former staffer reached a secret out-of-court settlement in 2017. Jane Doe received $110,000 and agreed to not discuss her allegations in public.
Doe was compelled to testify, however, when subpoenaed last year for a deposition in another case.
Hoover and other lawmakers mentioned in the deposition kept Doe’s testimony secret until it emerged yesterday.
Three other Kentucky Republican face accusations
As well as with Jeff Hoover, Jane Doe’s 2017 settlement agreement also included three other Republican legislators: Michael Meredith, Brian Linder, Jim DeCesare.
Linder and DeCesare did not stand for reelection in 2018, but Meredith remains a member of the Kentucky House.
Doe’s testimony contains particularly damning allegations against Meredith. She says that during a legislative conference in 2016 he approached her while she was standing next to her supervisor and screamed demands that she have sex with him.
“Asking me why I wouldn’t f–k him, begging me to have sex with him,” she said.
Meredith also allegedly said he wanted to ejaculate on Doe.
Jeff Hoover’s (very slow) fall from grace
News of the settlement between Doe and the Republican lawmakers, but without significant details of the allegations, first broke in November 2017.
Although the full extent of Doe’s claims were not yet then known, Governor Matt Bevan and eight other prominent Republicans called on Hoover to resign. Hoover announced his intention to step down as speaker in the future, but decided to remain in the legislature.
His actual resignation from the speakership took place in January of 2018. Three months later, in April 2018, Hoover admitted to sending inappropriate texts, and agreed to a $1,000 fine in a settlement with the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission.
Since the leaked deposition testimony emerged yesterday, both Hoover and Meredith are facing renewed calls to leave the legislature.
“State Representatives Hoover and Meredith must resign immediately,” Kentucky Democratic Party spokesperson Marissa McNee said in a statement yesterday.
“Screaming at female staffers in public, demanding sexual favors, and harassing women repeatedly cannot be tolerated,” she continued.
“The behavior described by the woman they targeted and other witnesses is horrifying. Republican Leadership has ignored this for far too long, it is time for them to take action.”
Kentucky Republicans issued a statement that acknowledged that sexual harassment was a bad thing in general, but did not go so far as to call on Hoover and Meredith to step down.
“Sexual harassment has existed in Frankfort for decades, far pre-dating today’s Republican Leadership” explained Kentucky GOP Executive Director Sarah Van Wallaghen.
“Sadly, it is only now being addressed in a real and meaningful way. The problem is not partisan, it is cultural.”