California Assembly finds misconduct by former top staffer
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California Assembly investigation found a former high-level staffer likely forcibly kissed a female employee and put his hand up the back of her shirt, according to documents released Wednesday.
The accused employee, Pedro Reyes, retired in December from his job as chief consultant of the powerful appropriations committee. The newly released document is the second released by the Assembly revealing complaints about inappropriate behavior by Reyes.
He could not immediately be reached for comment.
The California Legislature agreed earlier this year to release information about substantiated sexual misconduct complaints against lawmakers or top staff members. The decision to publicly share those documents came amid a wave of criticism about the Legislature’s handling of sexual misconduct complaints after nearly 150 women signed an open letter calling harassment a pervasive problem at the Capitol.
Three California lawmakers resigned in the face of accusations.
The new documents show Assembly officials told Reyes on July 12 that he violated the chamber’s sexual harassment policy.
The complainant’s name was not disclosed, and it’s unclear what timeframe her complaint spanned. She said over a year and a half, Reyes hugged her flirtatiously, commented on how she smelled and one put his hand up the back of her shirt. On another occasion he forcibly kissed her, and he would sometimes call her and say he could still smell her, according to the documents.
Prior records show the Assembly human resources director spoke to Reyes in November about complaints from employees regarding inappropriate conduct, including inappropriate hugs and sexually suggestive comments.
Reyes was apologetic and explained that he “recently ceased hugging coworkers,” according to the document.
The previous document does not mention formal discipline, but it reminds Reyes he is expected to “strictly adhere” to the Assembly’s policies.