California Assembly fires employee over sex misconduct
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Former Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra and one of his staffers, Gerardo Guzman, both likely engaged in sexual harassment while working for a different San Fernando Valley lawmaker, an investigation released Thursday found.
Guzman was fired last month following the investigation while Bocanegra, who won an Assembly seat in 2012, resigned in December. The investigation examined their behavior while working for former Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, who held office between 2007 and 2012.
Bocenegra’s likely sexual misconduct included putting a female subordinate’s bracelet down his pants and asking her to retrieve it, stroking a female employee’s hair and repeatedly asking another on dates, the investigation found. Guzman, meanwhile, likely engaged in behavior such as showing and talking about sex toys with female employees.
Bocenegra was Fuentes’ chief of staff and Guzman was his district director. Bocanegra was elected in 2012, lost his seat in 2014, and was re-elected in 2016.
Bocanegra was the first California lawmaker publicly hit with allegations of sexual misconduct after nearly 150 women published a letter in October calling out a “pervasive” culture of harassment in the Capitol.
He asked the Assembly to fully investigate claims against him, published by the Los Angeles Times, on Nov. 20, but declined to cooperate with investigators after he resigned a week later, according to the investigation.
The Assembly informed Guzman on Feb. 5 of the investigation’s results and fired him effective Feb. 21.
Neither could be reached for comment by The Associated Press. But Guzman told the Times on Wednesday he was “deeply regretful” for the incidents and that they occurred before he quit drinking alcohol. Bocanegra told the Times he has done his best to be accountable for “any alleged actions prior to ever serving in office.”
Guzman was supporting Luz Rivas, a non-profit head, in the race to succeed Bocanegra. Rivas said she cut ties with Guzman on Wednesday after reading about his firing in the Times.