A state representative who says she experienced sexual harassment years ago as a state house aide said Monday that some of those who engaged in that misconduct are current elected officials.
Appearing on Greater Boston with Jim Braude, Rep. Diana DiZoglio recounted last week’s House debate, during which she delivered a fiery speech decrying House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s use of non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements (NDAs) and effectively broke her own agreement by sharing what happened to her in 2011.
During that debate, the Methuen democrat acknowledged she received and accepted a severance package in exchange for signing an NDA from DeLeo's office after she was fired by her boss. The agreement barred her from discussing the circumstances of her termination, which she said stems from discredited rumors about inappropriate behavior with a state lawmaker at a late-night party. DiZoglio said she became the subject of gossip, innuendo, and propositions even after an investigation into the matter found no wrongdoing. She said, at the time, she had raised harassment concerns with the Speaker's office, but no action was taken.
Asked if some of the people who subjected her to harassment still work on Beacon Hill, DiZoglio said, “I believe so. Yes.” When pressed if any of them are elected officials, DiZoglio said yes again, but declined to identify them.
“I didn't come forward to accuse or attack anybody. I came forward to make sure that the policies changed,” she said.
DeLeo said he and his office were not aware of DiZoglio’s concerns over sexual harassment until recently.
“Members of my staff and Counsel’s Office met with Representative DiZoglio three times in June of 2011 as part of the investigation into the incident…,” DeLeo said in a Thursday statement. “At none of these meetings did Representative DiZoglio report that she was experiencing harassment.”
Last week, an amendment she introduced on the floor to do away with all NDAs failed to muster enough support. The House did pass new workplace reporting policies that, among other things, address NDAs by offering a choice to victims who wish to remain confidential.
“I think that we did a really great job of making sure that a process was implemented, because one didn't exist before, which is probably why, you know, the speaker's made comments about not ... remembering that situation had occurred with me,” said DiZoglio. “There was no process in place back then, so if somebody came forward to say that they were experiencing harassment, there was no protocol to follow. People didn’t know what to do.”
The speaker is widely viewed as having tight control over the majority democrat body, and floor debates such as last week’s and open criticism of the speaker is rare. Asked if she has experienced any pushback from coming forward, DiZoglio declined to say.
“How I’ve been treated is not important. What’s important is how we have been able to make a difference and how sharing my experience has been able to impact this policy moving forward, and I’m happy to see that it has,” she said.
This story has been updated for clarity. For more on Rep. DiZoglio's push to reform non-disclosure policies, click the video link above.