Oregon Sen. Jeff Kruse Resigns After Investigation Into Harassment Complaints

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He said he has significant issues with the report and will respond to it.

Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, the first woman to publicly accuse him of sexual harassment, told the Statesman Journal that while she appreciates his resignation, she doesn't understand why it isn't immediate. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, submitted his resignation Thursday over allegations he persistently subjected women at the Oregon Capitol to unwelcome touching.

But he didn't stop, Gelser said.

Gelser said she is unhappy that Kruse is delaying his exit.

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The investigation was one of many in statehouses nationwide following a wave of sexual misconduct allegations against men in power since an October expose of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein by the New York Times. In Arizona, Republican state Rep. Don Shooter was voted out of office on February 1 after sexual misconduct allegations, becoming the first state lawmaker in the U.S.to be expelled since the #MeToo movement gained steam.

A law student who worked for Kruse said he frequently pull her in for "lingering side hugs", sometimes extending his hands down to her upper breasts.

Throughout her report, Rubanoff makes clear that Kruse regularly violated the standards of conduct expected of state senators.

Jackie Winters, the Senate Republican leader in the Legislature dominated by Democrats, thanked Kruse for his 22 years of service.

Rubanoff also wrote that she was anxious about the "message that will be sent to women in the workplace regarding the futility of coming forward if there are not meaningful consequences about Sen". The other women cited in the report who complained weren't named.

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In his statement Kruse said: "For civil rights to be meaningful, there must be civil rights for all people, including the right to fundamental fairness for persons accused of harassment".

"Senator Kruse's hugging and touching of women not only continued after the warnings he received, the evidence shows that the conduct actually escalated during the 2017 session, at least with respect to the two law students assigned to his office", Rubanoff wrote. She was "terrified" of how it might affect her career, and so she did not speak up about it at the time.

Kruse told the investigator that he believed his behaviour was "instinctual" and that although he wanted to change, "It's not easy to change when you have been doing something for 67 years". The discipline came days after Gelser, Kruse's first accuser, posted a vague accusation of groping by a Senate Republican on Twitter.

Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said he had been working this week with leadership in the Senate Republican Caucus to secure Kruse's resignation.

Gov. Kate Brown and House Speaker Tina Kotek, among others, have called on Kruse to resign.

"I hope that he does", Democratic Rep. Diego Hernandez said Wednesday. "Two weeks (out of) the building is not enough". I believe the women who courageously came forward.

In a letter sent to the Secretary of State Dennis Richardson Office on Thursday, Kruse said, "Please accept this notice of my resignation from the office of State Senator - District 1, effective March 15, 2018".

"I have been proud to serve alongside my colleagues in the Oregon House and Senate, and I am very proud of my accomplishments in healthcare and education", he said.

Kruse told his hometown newspaper The News-Review he won't step down.

Kruse said he had "no recollection" about numerous allegations, including specific incidents reported by Gelser, but did not deny certain other claims.

"Because his resignation doesn't take place until march, there is no chance there can be a short process to get somebody into represent his district before the end of the 5 week session we are in, so it really short changes the people in his district, they have no voice in this particular session we are in", Moore said.

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