AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

WASHINGTON (AP) — Michigan Rep. John Conyers, below investigation over allegations he physically harassed female staff members, said Weekend he will step aside as the best Democrat on the House Judiciary Panel while fiercely denying he served inappropriately during his long period in Congress.

In a statement, the particular 88-year-old lawmaker made clear he would choose to keep his leadership role in the committee, which has wide jurisdiction more than U. S. law enforcement, from municipal rights and impeachment of government officials to sexual harassment defenses.

But Conyers acknowledged maintaining the particular post would be a distraction “in lighting of the attention drawn by latest allegations made against me. inch

“I have come to believe that our presence as ranking member to the committee would not serve these attempts while the Ethics Committee investigation is certainly pending, ” he said. “I cannot in good conscience permit these charges to undermine our colleagues in the Democratic Caucus, plus my friends on both sides of the church aisle in the Judiciary Committee and the Home of Representatives. ”

Denying the particular allegations, Conyers, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus who was first selected to the House in 1964, advised lawmakers to allow him “due procedure. ”

“I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family, ” Conyers said.

News website BuzzFeed documented last Monday that Conyers’ workplace paid a woman more than $27, 500 under a confidentiality agreement to settle the complaint in 2015 that the lady was fired from his Wa staff because she rejected their sexual advances. BuzzFeed also released affidavits from former staff members exactly who said they had witnessed Conyers coming in contact with female staffers inappropriately – massaging their legs and backs : or requesting sexual favors.

Conyers says he will fully cooperate with all the Ethics Committee, which said it will eventually review the allegations of nuisance and age discrimination as well as making use of “official resources for impermissible individual purposes. ”

At least one House Liberal, Rep. Kathleen Rice of New You are able to, has called on Conyers in order to step down from Congress. 2 others, Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N. Y., who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., co-chairman of the biggest group of congressional liberals, had mentioned Conyers should at least step apart from his leadership role on the Judiciary committee.

In a statement Sunday, Home Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi mentioned she welcomed Conyers’ decision to quit the committee leadership post.

“Zero tolerance means consequences, ” Pelosi said. “Any credible accusation should be reviewed by the Ethics Committee precipitously. We are at a watershed moment with this issue, and no matter how excellent an individual’s legacy, it is not a license regarding harassment. ”

The California Liberal noted that the House in the arriving week will vote on needing anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for just about all members and their staffs. The girl suggested that nondisclosure agreements such as the one Conyers signed to settle the particular 2015 complaint should be made public.

The particular Senate has already approved a determine requiring all senators, staff plus interns to be trained on avoiding sexual harassment.

The flurry associated with activity Sunday comes as Congress works on to return from its Thanksgiving break, among increasing attention on the issue associated with sexual harassment with multiple guys in entertainment, media and national politics facing allegations of misconduct. To the congressional level, Democratic Sen. ‘s Franken of Minnesota and His party Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore also are the subject of accusations.

Earlier Weekend, Pelosi defended Conyers as an “icon” for women’s rights and informed NBC’s “Meet the Press” which he will do the “right thing. inch

“This is about going forward, ” the lady said. “We also have to address this for every person, every workplace in the country, not only in the Congress of the United States. And that’s extremely important. And a good deal of that would be accomplished by the Judiciary Committee. ”

Representative. Jerrold Nadler, D-N. Y., could be the next most-senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee after Conyers, the only African-American to have held the position of leader or ranking member on the cell.

“Even under these unfortunate situations, the important work of the Democrats within the House Judiciary Committee must move ahead, ” Nadler said. “I is going to do everything in my power to continue to push on the important issues facing our own committee, including criminal justice change, workplace equality, and holding the particular Trump administration accountable. ”

“Ranking Member Conyers has a 50-year heritage of advancing the cause of justice, plus my job moving forward is to carry on that critical work, ” he or she added.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., who sponsored legislation to change the system by which sexual complaints are created and settled on Capitol Slope, said Congress must show a larger commitment to addressing sexual wrong doings. Last month, she shared her very own story of being sexually assaulted with a high-level aide while she was obviously a staffer.

“This is absolutely a priority that people must focus on in terms of fixing the machine, ” she said on ABC’s “This Week. ” ”We state zero tolerance, but I don’t think that we put our money exactly where our mouths are. ”