Congresswoman Esty under fire following revelation of harassment in her office

WATERBURY --  Pressure is continuing to mount for 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.

Members of the opposition have called on her to resign. Now,  two prominent women legislators from her own party are echoing that call. The clamor comes on the heels of claims of rampant harassment of numerous women on her staff by her former Chief of Staff, Tony Baker, and claims by a former staffer that Esty protected a violent staffer.

Anna Kain told the Washington Post that in May of 2016, she reported to Esty and to authorities the she was sexually harassed, punched and had her life threatened by Baker, who she dated for a period of time while they both worked for Esty.

In response to the Connecticut Post and Washington Post stories about the allegations, the congresswoman issued a statement apologizing for failing to protect her employees, adding "I learned that the threat of violence was not an isolated incident, but part of a pattern of behavior that victimized many of the women on my staff.”

On Friday night, Anna Kain, the staffer who accused Baker, issued a statement saying "This isn't about me. This is about a flawed system designed to protect powerful people."

"The fact that other staff members were reluctant to come to her and were fearful of doing that does say a lot about just the general climate (in Esty's office)," said Manny Santos, a former Meriden Mayor, who will be Esty's Republican challenger in November.

While the accuser's claim was made in May of 2016, Baker did not leave his job until three months later.

According to the Washington Post, Esty and Baker co-authored a letter of recommendation for him, which resulted in a job with Sandy Hook Promise. He reportedly was fired from that job when this news broke, but Sandy Hook Promise will not confirm that.

"The proper thing to do would be for her to resign," said Santos.

The Hartford Courant editorial board is also calling for her resignation.

On Saturday, two Connecticut legislators, both fellow democrats, also said Esty should resign.  The Hartford Courant quoted State Representative Mae Flexer (D-Killingly) as saying “The congresswoman failed her staff on every level when she decided to protect an alleged abuser instead of them.  It's completely unacceptable. Her failure to do the right thing here hurt us all, especially as more and more women are courageously coming forward. It's time for Rep. Esty to step aside.”

Representative Diana Urban (D-Stonington) has also called for her resignation. In a comment on Facebook, Urban said "I hate to say it as I have served with her in the General Assembly and respected her clarity of vision and commitment but she totally failed us.... and by us I mean women as well as men." 

Chris Mattei, a former prosecutor and Democratic candidate for Attorney General, also issued statement calling for Esty to resign.

"What she does in the future really is a decision for her constituents," said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. She needs to talk to her constituents. I’m still learning all the facts. I need to know more."

Lori Pelletier, President of Connecticut ALF-CIO, says, “Once again the CT GOP is duplicitous. Not once have they or any of their leadership called on President Trump to resign following any of the dozens of stories, settlements and NDA’s as a result of his actions over the past 18 months. So, now from their island of hypocrisy they are calling on Congresswoman Esty to resign. To borrow a phrase, I say, BS."

Pelletier continued, "The congresswoman gave a detailed explanation of the situation and apologized. Congresswoman Esty has been and will continue to be a fierce advocate for working women and their families as her exemplary AFL-CIO voting record shows. In order to achieve real change in the workplace, working women need to have an efficient way to join together in a union and gain collective power.”

In November, following the passage of a resolution to require sexual harassment training for congress, she said she is committed to creating a safe workplace and, in February, co-sponsored a bill to strengthen sexual harassment protections in congress.

"Her intention was to hide this," Santos said.

FOX61 was told by her staff she was unavailable for an interview Friday. When the documents that Esty released to the Washington Post were requested, FOX61 received no response.