TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A Florida lawmaker accused by six women of inappropriately touching them without their consent has taken a temporary leave of absence as the Senate's budget chair.

State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said he will step down at this time until the "matter is resolved," according to a letter to the Senate president obtained by Politico.

"I understand that you are in the process of hiring an independent, third party to conduct an investigation regarding the anonymous allegations made against me in a recent news article," it reads in part. "... I look forward to defending myself against these untruthful allegations and believe I will be fully exonerated."

Politico first reported six women who work at the state Capitol accuse Latvala, who is running for governor, of touching them or saying demeaning remarks about their bodies.

Latvala denied ever sexually harassing anyone.

State Senate President Joe Negron described the allegations as "atrocious and horrendous." Florida Gov. Rick Scott said what he's seen in news reports is "disgusting," according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The Times quote Scott, speaking about his daughters and wife: "I would be horrified if they were treated (like that). It’s disgusting if anybody does that. There’s an independent investigation and we need to follow that and find out the real facts of what actually happened."

Adding, "If anybody has done anything wrong, they need to be out of office. There should be no corruption in politics. We should expect all of our elected officials to be of the highest standards in our society."

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