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Divulging a Decade’s Harassment

CA Legislature reveals 10 years worth of records on sexual harassment cases.

Assemblywoman+Burke+at+the+Inglewood+Unified+School+District+JLAC+Hearing
Assemblywoman Burke at the Inglewood Unified School District JLAC Hearing

Assemblywoman Burke at the Inglewood Unified School District JLAC Hearing

Autumn Burke

Autumn Burke

Assemblywoman Burke at the Inglewood Unified School District JLAC Hearing

Ashlee Navarec, Contributor

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On Friday, Feb 2, the California Legislature publically released the records of eighteen cases of alleged sexual harassment.

72nd District Assemblyman, Travis Allen, state Senators Robert Hertzberg and Tony Mendoza, and 62nd District Assemblywoman, Autumn Burke, were all included in the completed investigations, some of which have been hidden for over a decade. Former Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, who resigned in Nov., 2017 for facing sexual harassment allegations from multiple women, is included as well.

Twelve senior staff members were also accused of sexual misconduct. Since 2006, more than “six dozen complaints were recorded by the two legislative houses.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as, “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature…” The State Assembly’s employee handbook defines sexual harassment in almost the exact same way, yet the allegations continue.

These records contain explicit details in regards to the investigations in the legislative district offices throughout the State of California. In 2013, Allen, a Republican candidate for governor, was accused by an anonymous female staff member, on multiple instances, of inappropriate contact.

Hertzberg, known as the “Huggy Bear” in political circles, was accused by a woman who felt unsafe with his overly affectionate embraces, and who then filed a complaint in 2015. The Senate document states that Hertzberg “pulled the employee close to him and began to dance with her.”

In a written statement provided by the LA Times, he claimed to hug people as a way of forming a relationship.

“It’s never meant as anything other than a gesture of warmth and humanity,” wrote Hertzberg. “This instance, a settled matter from several years ago involves a single hug 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.”

An investigation regarding Hertzberg’s actions began shortly after Linda Halderman, Republican and Assemblywoman of Fresno, filed a complaint against the Senator’s embraces. Halderman, who served from 2010 to 2012, said “Huggy Bear” had continuously made her feel uncomfortable during repeated hugging.

In addition, Tony Mendoza is also under current investigation regarding unwanted advances toward three former female subordinates. Although he is currently on a leave of absence from the Senate, in a previous statement made in Dec., 2017, Mendoza affirmed that he, “will vigorously defend himself to clear his name.”

Denying the accusations, Mendoza has remained critical of the Senate’s investigation procedures. The present investigations of Mendoza and Hertzberg are being handled by an outside law firm.

In a so-called “after hours” conversation, Assemblywoman Autumn Burke was accused of having an inappropriate conversation detailing an anal-sex experience with Capitol office staff. Burke claimed the complaint was later made by a very displeased, former staff member.

The complaints were finally given to The LA Times 94 days after the legislative attorneys initially refused to do so.

The original complaints and documents verifying the completion of each investigation were the only parts that were made public. In addition to excluding all names of the accusers and witnesses, lawmakers refused to divulge any other records related to the cases.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Divulging a Decade’s Harassment”

  1. Cecilia Olmos on February 14th, 2018 1:17 pm

    …and the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Cristina Garcia.

    [Reply]

  2. Bonnie Metcalf on February 17th, 2018 12:50 pm

    Regarding the anonymous accusations against Assemblyman Travis Allen, NONE of them qualified as being any type of harassment & certainly not sexual per the description in this article: “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature…” These accusations claimed Travis squeezed her shoulders from behind, tapped her shoe with his, and petted her hand during a handshake according to the report printed in the Mercury News on 2-5-18. Ridiculous and anonymous accusations now used to slander the perfect candidate for Governor.

    [Reply]

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Divulging a Decade’s Harassment