State committee to hear sexual harassment claims in California government

A special assembly committee in Sacramento will hear from victims of sexual harassment and talk about the culture at the Capitol.

Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, is chairing the first of at least three hearings through January.

Friedman said some of the victims believe the current system of reporting leaves them with little recourse and fear of retaliation.

"What staffers and lobbyists have told me is that there is a feeling amongst a lot of the people in the Capitol that if they report something they're going to be the ones who are seen as the problem, that they might be moved, retaliated against, that there isn't going to be real justice or real repercussions for people who are behaving in this manner," Friedman said.

The hearing comes a day after Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra resigned amid sexual harassment allegations.

The San Fernando Valley Democrat is the first to step down after at least six women have accused him of groping them or making other sexual advances.

"I think the outcry against Mr. Bocanega's behavior and his resignation sends a very strong signal to people in the Capitol particularly to men in the Capitol that have been abusers that this is not going to be tolerated," Friedman said.

State Senator Tony Mendoza from the Los Angeles area is also facing his own sexual misconduct allegations.

He's accused of inviting one woman to his home, offering alcohol to a 19-year-old woman and holding one-on-one meetings with another woman over dinner and drinks.

Mendoza has denied some of the allegations.

He's been stripped of his committee chairmanship as the Senate plans to hire an outside firm to investigate.

Friedman said she wants to work with the Senate so there is a cohesive system at the capitol for reporting sexual harassment.

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