Congresswoman speaks out about how she handled abuse complaint - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Congresswoman speaks out about how she handled abuse complaint

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Channel 3's Susan Raff interviewed Congresswoman Esty in Washington D.C. (WFSB) Channel 3's Susan Raff interviewed Congresswoman Esty in Washington D.C. (WFSB)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WFSB) -

Just a few weeks after she came under fire for how she handled a harassment and abuse complaint in her office, a CT congresswoman is speaking out.

Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty sat down with Channel 3 on Tuesday, where she said she's disappointed in herself regarding how she handled a complaint of harassment and abuse within her office.

Channel 3 was the first local media to interview her in Washington D.C. on Tuesday. See more of the interview on Channel 3 starting at 5 p.m.

Last month, Esty came under fire for how she handled a harassment and abuse complaint in her Washington DC office.

It all began with her former chief of staff, Tony Baker. Esty admitted that Baker became violent with a female staffer.

According to reports, Baker punched the staffer and left voicemails in which he threatened to kill her.

During the interview on Tuesday, Esty apologized to the victim and to her staff for how she handled things.

"I am so sorry to Anna. I never meant to hurt her. And to my staff, and people who have believed in me," Esty said on Tuesday.

Instead of suspending Baker, Esty let him stay on for three months and paid him a $5,000 severance. She also waived his government college loans.

"My focus was to get him away from Washington. Away from Anna, away from my staff, and frankly away from me," Esty said.

She also wrote him a recommendation letter that may have helped him land a job with Ohio's location of the Sandy Hook Promise.

"I made a mistake. I made a mistake to give him any reference. I tried to reassure people he was going through alcohol and anger management counseling,” Esty continued, adding that he did fundraising for her, as that is part of what the chief of staff does.

During the interview on Tuesday, Esty said she has a daughter who is the same age as the victim.

When asked how she would have felt if it was her daughter in this situation, she said "I would feel terrible."

After the story came out, there were several calls for her resignation. However, Esty only said she will not seek re-election.

"I have determined that it is in the best interest of my constituents and my family to end my time in Congress at the end of this year," Esty said in a statement recently. "Too many women have been harmed by harassment in the workplace. In the terrible situation in my office, I could have and should have done better."

Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was killed at Sandy Hook, is now giving serious thought to running for Esty's congressional seat.

Another person who has lost loved ones to violence is also considering a run. Bill Petit, whose wife and daughters were killed in Cheshire, may leave his seat as a Republican state rep.

Some lawmakers have weighed in on Esty's announcement and said her decision to not seek re-election is the right one.

Others, however, feel it's not enough.

Esty now wants to push for better training and manuals on how to deal with these issues in Congress.

For Esty, it comes too late. The damage is done, and some feel she should have known better.

Channel 3 will have more on from Congresswoman Esty starting at 5 p.m.

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