In November 2017, I wrote a blog post entitled, “Sex Sells and the Bodies Are Falling Everywhere”. This is a follow-up to that earlier post.
Laura McLeod told Politico that her relationship with Latvala was “complicated” but admitted that the first phase of their relationship was indeed consensual. He was married and she was in the midst of a divorce. The relationship ended amicably but when Latvala returned to the Senate he began to pursue her again. This time, according to McLeod, the advances were unwanted. Yet, McLeod did have sex with him on two separate occasions after his return to the Senate in 2011. Did McLeod benefit in some way? It appears she did. She implicitly, at least, encouraged a quid pro quo relationship with the Senator. In this scenario, it’s not quite as clear who victimized whom or if there were any victims at all. What is clear is that the previous consensual relationship governed the standards by which the two adults would behave in the future with an added twist-both parties would benefit.
In the end, McLeod came out the winner. She was able to hold over Latvala’s head the extramarital relationship like Damocles’ sword. When the time was right for her, she came forward and took down the Senator with allegations of sexual harassment. Why else would she save those text messages? Interestingly, Politico and other media never published her responses to the messages. But that wouldn’t fit the narrative that had already been written before the facts were known. It was time to take down a powerful politician and Jack Latvala had a bullseye on his back.
Another allegation against Latvala was resolved when the Florida Senate agreed to pay $900,000 to aide Rachel Perrin Rogers who filed a federal suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As part of the settlement, Perrin Rogers submitted her resignation and agreed never to work in the Senate again. If she had done nothing wrong, why did she agree to quit her job?
Latvala claims the allegations amount to a political hit job orchestrated by his opponents, some of whom were running against him for governor. Latvala himself said in an interview, “Women should not be sexually harassed in the workplace. But guys in important positions also shouldn’t be sitting ducks for anonymous accusations or people coming forward with an axe to grind.”
Jack Latvala is a smart and savvy politician. If he had the reputation others say he had in Tallahassee, wouldn’t he have moved on to another consensual relationship if the one with McLeod was over and not reciprocated?
McLeod wants it both ways: she wanted to be the alluring siren who captured a powerful man in her snare and, she wanted to be portrayed as the victim when she decided she got what she wanted. That may be the way of the world but it isn’t fair and it’s only part of the story.
A year and a half ago, I got it wrong when I criticized Jack Latvala. Every story has two sides and rarely are such stories black and white. I wish I knew then what I know now.