Independent U.S. agency denies Rep. Hastings sexually harassed aide

WASHINGTON — An independent U.S. agency is denying claims that a former co-chairman, Rep. Alcee Hastings, made sexual advances toward a staff member and sought to retaliate when she refused.

In a court filing Saturday, the Helsinki Commission disputes the sexual harassment allegations by Winsome Packer. She was the commission's staff representative in Vienna from 2008 to 2010 when the Democratic congressman from Florida was co-chairman.

Hastings' legal response to the complaint was expected later Saturday. He has called the allegations "ludicrous."