Oregon law­maker says sex­ual ha­rass­ment cul­ture hasn’t im­proved

Tri-City Herald (Sunday) - - Weather -

A cul­ture of sex­ual ha­rass­ment at the Oregon Capi­tol hasn’t im­proved more than a year af­ter al­le­ga­tions sur­faced in­volv­ing the sex­ual ha­rass­ment of two in­terns, a state sen­a­tor says.

Oregon Pub­lic Broad­cast­ing re­ports that Demo­cratic Sen. Sara Gelser made the com­ment on Fri­day to a work group tasked with cre­at­ing rec­om­men­da­tions for rules gov­ern­ing ha­rass­ment in the Oregon Leg­is­la­ture.

The Bureau of La­bor and In­dus­tries pre­vi­ously iden­ti­fied two in­terns who re­ported be­ing sex­u­ally ha­rassed while work­ing for for­mer Repub­li­can Sen. Jeff Kruse of Rose­burg. Kruse re­signed fol­low­ing the al­le­ga­tions, which he de­nied.

Gelser came for­ward with the al­le­ga­tions against Kruse.

She said she has since dealt with re­tal­i­a­tion from un­spec­i­fied peo­ple and re­mains con­cerned for in­terns and leg­isla­tive staffers who work in the Capi­tol build­ing.

“If I had to go back in time, I prob­a­bly wouldn’t (file a for­mal com­plaint) again,” Gelser told the Oregon State Capi­tol Work­place Ha­rass­ment work group. “And that’s a real prob­lem.”

She said that last month she re­ceived a let­ter at her home calling her a “lib­eral, Demo­crat hyp­ocrite.” She said the let­ter con­tained the mes­sage: “Kruse wasn’t about the ha­rass­ment was it? It was about the votes.”

She said the let­ter was sent anony­mously, but she sus­pects it was from another sen­a­tor.

The work group is ex­pected to send fi­nal rec­om­men­da­tions to the state Leg­is­la­ture in the next sev­eral weeks.

The group has come up with some draft pro­pos­als. One is to cre­ate an eq­uity of­fice with two peo­ple. One per­son would han­dle in­ves­ti­ga­tions, and the other would over­see train­ing and pro­vide a con­fi­den­tial process for mak­ing com­plaints.

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