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

Sen. Jeff Kruse resigns amid sexual misconduct allegations

Sen. Jeff Kruse resigns amid sexual misconduct allegations

State Sen. Jeff Kruse not only subjected two female senators to unwanted touching, he groped or gave lingering hugs to many other women working at the Oregon Capitol, according to a report released Tuesday by an independent investigator.

Sen. Sara Gelser, a Democrat from the college town of Corvallis, said Kruse harassed many women in the Capitol through prolonged hugs and other unwanted touching. A separate investigative report found that Kruse also touched and hugged two law students who used to work for him, Republican and non-partisan staffers, a former legislative aide, and a lobbyist.

"The behavior alleged in the report, if true, is obviously not acceptable to the Senate Republican caucus", the statement, obtained by the Oregonian, says. He says he chose to resign so - quote - "my colleagues may focus on serving Oregonians without distraction".

A four-member Committee on Conduct, consisting of two Republican and two Democratic senators, will consider the investigative report February 22.

"There is a longstanding pattern of Senator Kruse engaging in unwelcome physical contact toward females in the workplace, including Senator Gelser and Senator Steiner Hayward, and that he stubbornly refused to change that behavior after being warned about it in March 2016".

Senators Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, and Jackie Winters, R-Salem, leave the Senate chambers after Sine Die to adjourn the 2015 legislative session at the Oregon Capitol, on Monday, July 6, 2015, in Salem, Ore.

But he didn't stop, Gelser said.

"While Senator Kruse's resignation ends a hard chapter for the Legislature, we can not allow it to end this discussion", Courtney said. A 51-page report was also just released documenting the allegations. If he doesn't resign, the Senate should expel Kruse, she said. "Kruse is allowed to stay in the Legislature without specific conditions that he needs to satisfy, and if there is not a continuing prospect of serious consequences if he fails to satisfy those conditions, he may "fall back into old patterns" again". The inappropriate behavior continued after she won a senate seat in 2015.

The report alleges inappropriate conduct from Kruse dating back to 2011. "We owe it to the courageous women who came forward to seize this moment". "As we move forward we must work to provide a safe work environment for all".

When news of the complaint surfaced, Kruse slammed the investigation as "a political witch hunt". The detail in the formal complaints made in November by Senator Gelser and myself should have been compelling enough for him to recognize the inappropriateness of his behavior.

A representative for Kruse did not immediately respond to HuffPost's request for comment. "I don't think people appreciate how fearless those women were", she said, adding that members of the Legislature ought to improve the Capitol's workplace harassment rules.

Gelser later confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that her tweet referenced Kruse.

Steiner Hayward declined to comment on the report through her office. Nevertheless, the investigator also wrote that she did "not believe that Senator Kruse is a bad person, or that he has meant to hurt or offend anyone".

In his resignation statement, Kruse said he is "very proud" of the bills he authored affecting health care and education policy, and said he is looking forward to returning to Roseburg, where he still owns a working farm.

"Serving the people of Curry and portions of Coos, Douglas, Josephine and Jackson counties for the past 22 years has been the greatest honor of my life", Kruse wrote in his statement.

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