When a single guy is out at the local watering hole after work and attempts to chat up a pretty woman but is shot down, most people would agree that’s a “regrettable encounter.”
According to (now former) California Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, though, a “regrettable encounter” goes something like this:
– Approach a woman and stumble over your words a bit, get shot down, then proceed to closely follow her throughout the bar all night.
– Corner the woman as she’s waiting for the ladies room, approach her from behind, and simultaneously put one hand up her skirt and the other down her blouse.
– When she runs away and points you out to her boss, simply smirk and look away.
That is the scenario Elise Flynn Gyore described to investigators after Raul Bocanegra, then chief of staff to Asm. Felipe Fuentes, followed her around “like prey” on April 29, 2009 at an after-hours event held at a Sacramento bar.
After weighing her options, Gyore reported the incident to Senate sergeants, who investigated the “inappropriate and unwelcome physical contact” and found it “more likely than not that Mr. Bocanegra engaged in behavior that night which does not meet the Assembly’s expectations for professionalism.”
Bocanegra ran for his former boss’ seat three years later with the full support of California Democrats.
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and after an open letter was posted in the Sacramento Bee by more than 100 women working in California politics describing rampant sexual harassment at the Capitol, six other women have come forward with sexual harassment allegations against Bocanegra.
After a Los Angeles Times story about the additional victims broke on November 20, Bocanegra announced he would not seek re-election next year and would resign effective September 1, 2018.
Members of his own party bashed that decision, saying he should resign immediately, and Monday morning he announced on his Facebook page that “Upon further reflection during the recent holiday weekend” his resignation would become effective immediately.
Bocanegra couldn’t resign without blaming others, though:
I believed in our system of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and that the truth would come out clearing my name and reputation. 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.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said last week that if current investigations by the Assembly into Bocanegra’s conduct were substantiated, he would move to expel Bocanegra from the body.