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Jackson Lee steps down as Judiciary subcommittee chairwoman

In this Dec. 7, 2018, file photo, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas is stepping down from her position as leader of one of the House Judiciary Committee's key subcommittees following a lawsuit from a former employee who says her sexual assault complaint was mishandled.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said it was Jackson Lee's decision to step aside as chairwoman of the House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee.

Nadler said Jackson Lee's decision "does not suggest any culpability" but "was to ensure the subcommittee's important work continues."

Jackson Lee, who has served in Congress since 1995, is also chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Congressional Black Caucus. Calls to Jackson Lee's office and to the foundation were not immediately returned.

The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence had said it would not work with Jackson Lee as the lead sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act.

This comes following a lawsuit in which a former member of her office and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation said Jackson Lee mishandled a report of sexual assault.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, accuses Jackson Lee's office and the foundation of retaliation after the woman was sexually assaulted by a foundation employee in 2015 and threatened to sue.

The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, in a statement, called her a "strong ally" but said that it "cannot, however, support her continued lead sponsorship."

In a statement last week, Jackson Lee's office said while it could not discuss internal personnel matters, it "adamantly denies the allegations that it retaliated against, or otherwise improperly treated, the plaintiff."

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