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Conyers, 88, is now subject to a House Ethics Committee investigation after the Detroit Democrat was accused of sexually harassing former staffers, including spending more than $27,000 from his taxpayer-funded office budget to pay off a woman who said she was sacked for resisting his sexual advances.

Melanie Sloan, a lawyer who worked with Conyers on the House Judiciary Committee, has also stepped forward to accuse Conyers of being "increasingly abusive" to her, behavior she says wasn't "sexual harassment" but "sexual discrimination".

"My office resolved the allegations - with an express denial of liability - in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation", he said in a statement.

"We must ensure the Congress has a climate of dignity and respect with zero tolerance for sexual harassment", she said. "Just because someone is accused - and was it one accusation?"

Conyers said he denies the accusations and "very much" looks forward to "vindicating" himself before the House Ethics Committee, which announced last week that it was opening an investigation into the accusations against Conyers.

The move comes after it surfaced that he had paid a former staffer a settlement after she claimed she was sacked for rebuffing Conyers' sexual advances.

The 88-year-old lawmaker indicates that he will not resign from Congress and will keep fighting the allegations that he sexually harassed female staff members.

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

"I have come to believe that my presence as Ranking Member on the Committee would not serve these efforts while the Ethics Committee investigation is pending", he said.

He has rejected calls for his resignation and so has the House's top Democrat - for now.

Earlier Sunday, Pelosi defended Conyers as an "icon" for women's rights and told NBC's "Meet the Press" that he will do the "right thing".

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is the next most-senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee after Conyers, the only African-American to have held the position of chairman or ranking member on the panel.

The flurry of activity Sunday comes as Congress prepares to return from its Thanksgiving break, amid increasing attention on the issue of sexual harassment with multiple men in entertainment, media and politics facing allegations of misconduct.


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