Sen. Jeff Kruse resigns, but continues to deny allegations of sexual harassment

Oregon Senate Committee on Conduct Releases Investigative Report on Sen. Jeff Kruse

Oregon Lawmaker Groped Women On State Senate Floor, Report Finds

Kruse was "oblivious" to his behavior until he was specifically asked to stop hugging or touching female legislators and staff in 2016, the report stated.

"It is clear that the informal reporting process under the personnel rule exists for a goal, and that objective will be defeated if it is viewed as a "free pass".

"I am also concerned about the message that will be sent to women in the workplace regarding the futility of coming forward if there are not meaningful consequences for [Kruse]", she wrote.

According to the report, one of the law students said Kruse called her "little girl" and "sexy" while she worked at the Capitol.

Two Democratic lawmakers - Sen.

Sen. Steiner Hayward, a Portland Democrat who joined fellow Democrat Sen.

The investigation in OR is one of many in statehouses nationwide following a tidal wave of sexual misconduct allegations against men in power since an October expose of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein by the New York Times. In Arizona, Republican state Rep. Don Shooter was voted out of office on February 1 after sexual misconduct allegations, becoming the first state lawmaker in the be expelled since the #MeToo movement gained steam.

Kruse is a Roseburg Republican who has served in the state Legislature for more than two decades.

Courtney said, "The report of the independent investigator released earlier this week made it clear that his inappropriate conduct went far beyond" what two of Kruse's accusers, Senate Democrats Sara Gelser and Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, had outlined in formal written complaints.

The 66-year-old Republican legislator engaged in a "longstanding pattern. of unwelcome physical contact" toward women in the workplace, including State Sens.

"I was stunned and frozen", she wrote. The other women cited in the report who complained weren't named.

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Kruse's resignation follows the expulsion in Arizona last week of a state representative for sexual misconduct, thought to be the first one since the Me Too movement started in 2017. She also told the investigator that Kruse subjected her to "a lot of hugging" and would grab her and pull her into a tight hug at least twice a week.

Kruse allegedly told Rubanoff that his behavior was "instinctual" and that 'It's not easy to change when you have been doing something for 67 years'.

Thursday morning, a group of 125 lobbyists, politicians and state organizations did the same in an open letter to Kruse and the Senate.

Senate President Peter Courtney said Kruse made the right decision.

A long list of lawmakers, including Gov. Kate Brown and House Speaker Tina Kotek, had called on Kruse to resign following the investigation's release. "Two weeks (out of) the building is not enough". And to any women in this building - find someone who believes you and don't feel like you have to apologize for it.

The Republican senator from Roseburg still denied the allegations but decided on Thursday to resign effective March 15.

"His resignation will allow the many victims identified through the investigation to begin their healing, the Senate to move forward with the people's business and his constituents to once again have representation in the Legislature", said Steiner Hayward, a Portland Democrat.

Kruse told his hometown newspaper The News-Review he won't step down.

"I continue to deny these allegations and I regret that I will not have the opportunity to defend myself before the Senate Conduct Committee", Kruse said in a statement Thursday.

"Because his resignation doesn't take place until march, there is no chance there can be a short process to get somebody into represent his district before the end of the 5 week session we are in, so it really short changes the people in his district, they have no voice in this particular session we are in", Moore said. "I have significant issues with the report".

On Wednesday, Kruse offered to stay away form the Capitol building while the report was reviewed by the Senate Committee of Conduct.

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