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New Details Released of Sexual Harassment Investigations into State Lawmakers

California State Capital in Sacramento
California State Capital | Photo courtesy of Wikicommons

 

Documents released Friday by the California Legislature detail sexual harassment claims against several state lawmakers and high level employees, with some of the allegations dating back over a decade. None of the elected officials were punished, according to the records.

KCET is among several media outlets that received investigative records involving sexual harassment allegations after filing public records requests last year. The release by the Legislature was an exception to a longstanding policy of keeping such documents out of the public eye.  

The records detail claims from the period of January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2017 involving over a dozen current and former lawmakers and staff, including state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), Rod Grossman, director of information technology, Steve Davey, former chief staff to Sen. Ted Gaines, former state Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood), Joe Giardiello, former district director for Sen. Tom McClintock and former Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima), who resigned last year after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced.

Read the documents here:

In August of 2015, a co-worker filed a complaint against Grossman for inappropriate comments. On multiple occasions, the records state, Grossman discussed the way a female staffer was dressed. In a letter from the Senate Rules Committee, Grossman was informed he would be suspended without pay for two weeks and told to, "avoid repeating mistakes such as the one discussed in the letter."

Another document suggests in 2011 former Legislative Director, Eric Worthen, referred to female staffers as “sweetheart,” “baby” and "beautiful" and discussed his genitals during a work lunch. He also allegedly grabbed another staff member’s arm and said "sweetheart, that’s your job" in an "intimidating manner" according to the records.

When contacted by KCET, Worthen denied these remarks.

In April of 2015, Hertzberg entered an office to look at paint colors when he allegedly pulled an employee close to him and began dancing and singing to her. According to documents the Senator was “reminded about the Senate’s harassment policy” but was not disciplined. Hertzberg’s Public Information Officer, Katie Hanzlik sent KCET the following statement on behalf of the allegations against the Senator.

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"This instance, a settled matter from several years ago, involves a single occurrence with a family member of someone I knew, and I'm sorry to her and anyone else who may have ever felt my hugs unwelcome. The integrity and timeliness of HR records is critical, and the fact that some records were written today and others were handwritten proves the point that the Legislature’s HR practices are problematic. I remain committed to working on solutions that will instill faith in the Capitol as a safe and accountable workplace for all."

The Sacramento Bee obtained documents involving Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Marina Del Rey), Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), and Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia). Earlier this week, Mendoza agreed to extend his leave of absence for another 60 days. He has denied allegations that he acted inappropriately with three former female staff members.

In a statement to KCET, U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock’s office stated once it learned of the allegations of inappropriate behavior among an employee with his state Senate office, the matter was turned over to the the Senate Rules Committee for review. After an investigation was concluded, the employee was fired.

KCET reached out for comment to all of the individuals named in these documents but they were either not available or did not respond before publication.

 

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