California lawmaker Raul Bocanegra resigned from his post Monday, following a wave of sexual misconduct allegations.
A Democrat and member of the State Assembly, Bocanegra earlier said he’d opt not to run for re-election. But, as reported by The Washington Post, the politician decided to leave office after last weekend.
Apparently prompted to resign by friends, family members and constituents alike, Bocanegra had been accused of groping and kissing multiple women without their consent.
A statement released from the former assemblyman’s office seemed evasive, offering no apology while recognizing unnamed faults.
“But clearly, the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ has been temporarily lost in a hurricane of political opportunism among the self-righteous in my case – to the detriment of both the accuser and the accused,” he said.
“While I am not guilty of any such crimes,” Bocanegra said, “I am admittedly not perfect.”
The resignation and oddly ambiguous statement came after members of the state senate voted to remove Sen. Mendoza, of Los Angeles, from his posting as chair of the Insurance, Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.
Breaking: Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra has resigned effective immediately, following sexual harassment allegations. Statement below and story posting soon pic.twitter.com/qdPuh1AoSz
— Melanie Mason (@melmason) November 27, 2017
Mendoza – like many other politicians and personalities of late – was also accused of personal impropriety. Several women claim that the senator had frequently tried inviting female staffers to his home, and once offered a 19-year employee or intern alcohol.
Two of the women aligned against Mendoza filed formal complaints, which were quickly denied by the senator and his office.
“I welcome the Senate Rules Committee’s decision to seek outside counsel and establish a fair process to evaluate the unsubstantiated allegations against me,” said Mendoza in a statement.
Mendoza, reports the Post, added that the Senate had forbidden him from discussing the case or its details publicly.
The Post recounts how Bocanegra was first accused of misconduct nearly a decade ago.
In 2009, while still a staffer, one of Bocanegra’s female colleagues complained he’d been harassing her. He’d purportedly “stalked her around a nightclub” and tried fondling her at an after-work event. Although he was told to maintain distance between himself and the woman, no action was ever taken by the Assembly Rules Committee.
Bocanegra purportedly continued to misbehave with women after being elected to office, with complaints and accusations piling up post-2009.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said he’d expel Bocanegra from the legislative body if an investigator could verify the newest complaints, saying that Bocanegra’s resignation wasn’t good enough.
“Raul Bocanegra’s resignation underscores the seriousness of the allegations against him,” Rendon said. “One resignation, however, does not solve the problem.”
The accusations levied against Bocanegra and Mendoza seemingly highlight what some women working for the California state legislature term “a culture of harassment.” Over 150 female lawmakers, lobbyists, and political consultants signed a letter demanding reform.
A special election will be held to determine a replacement for Bocanegra.