Clearwater senator resigns amid sexual harassment allegations, maintains innocence

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Clearwater state Senator Jack Latvala has resigned less than 24 hours after a special master found probable cause that he was a serial sexual harasser.

The resignation does not end the investigation into whether Latvala also committed a crime.

The 33-page report found probable cause that Senator Latvala inappropriately touched Senate aid Rachel Perrin Rogers and that he used inappropriate verbal and non-verbal behavior. The most recent occurring this past October in this Senate elevator.

"The fact that it was a he said, she said, the judger decided to believe her evidence over our evidence," said Latvala's attorney, Steve Andrews.

Latvala submitted his resignation letter mid-afternoon Wednesday. In it, he maintained his innocence, just as he did in a recent news conference.

"I didn't do it and I'm not going to admit to something I didn't do," he said on December 4.

The retired judge serving as a special master also referred allegations of trading votes for sex with a lobbyist to law enforcement.

Not included in the report are hundreds of pages of exhibits, including explicit text messages from the Senator to the female lobbyist, which the Special master believes require more investigation.

"We never had the opportunity to rebut those allegations, never knew about them, and had we known about them, I believe we would have rebutted them," said Andrews.

Less than two months ago, Jack Latvala controlled an $87 billion budget and was the second most powerful member of the Florida Senate.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the Department of Law Enforcement said it had received the Latvala referral and had begun a preliminary review of the information.