Assemblyman Bocanegra resigns amid sexual harassment allegations

San Fernando Valley Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, who previously announced he would not seek reelection in response to sexual harassment allegations against him, said today he is resigning effective immediately.

Bocanegra, D-Pacoima, said he had initially intended to resign immediately but opted to remain for the balance of his term to ensure his district continued to be represented in Sacramento and to avoid the cost of a special election.

"Upon further reflection during the recent holiday weekend, and conversations with family, friends, supporters, I have decided to resign earlier from the state Assembly effective immediately, which was my original intention,'' he said.

"By doing so I hope the community will have a new representative sooner rather than later,'' he said. "Furthermore, it is my hope that in taking this action we can help clear the path so that women and men who have been truly victims of sexual assault and workplace harassment can step forward and get justice for any crimes committed against them. While I am not guilty of any such crimes, I am admittedly not perfect.

"I sincerely hope that my decision to resign immediately does not embolden those who are using this serious problem in our society to advance their own personal political gain, rather it is my hope that this action can instead help to widen the doors for victims of sexual assault and workplace harassment to find justice and solace.''

Bocanegra's announcement last week that he would not seek reelection came just before the Los Angeles Times published allegations of sexual harassment against him by six women. The Times reported last month that Bocanegra was disciplined in 2009 after a female Capitol staffer accused him of ``inappropriate and unwelcome physical contact'' while he was a chief of staff.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, last week removed Bocanegra from his position as majority whip and stripped him of his committee assignments. He noted that an independent investigation was being conducted into allegations against Bocanegra, who would have been expelled from the Assembly if the probe affirmed the allegations.

On Monday, Rendon said Bocanegra's resignation ``underscores the seriousness of the allegations against him.'' he also pointed out that the Assembly will begin holding hearings Tuesday as the body continues ``working to change the climate in the Capitol to stop sexual harassment and abuse.''