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The Latest: Senator apologizes to anyone offended by conduct

February 21, 2018

FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2018, file photo, California state Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, announces that he will take a month-long leave of absence while an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against him are completed in Sacramento, Calif. When lawmakers return from the President's Day weekend, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2018, they will learn whether the investigation cleared Mendoza or sets him up for possible expulsion. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on alleged sexual misconduct at the California Legislature (all times local):

2 p.m.

A California state senator accused of sexual misconduct is apologizing to anyone who felt uncomfortable by his behavior.

But Sen. Tony Mendoza flatly denied two of the more serious allegations Wednesday, a day before his fellow senators could decide his punishment.

The Los Angeles-area Democrat offered his first words of conciliation but otherwise struck a defiant tone in a two-page letter to fellow senators who can censure, suspend or expel him as soon as Thursday.

Lawyers investigating complaints against Mendoza found that he likely engaged in unwanted “flirtatious or sexually suggestive” behavior with six women he worked with, including four subordinates.

Mendoza wrote that the summarized findings don’t match his own memory or perception of the incidents, but he says he’s sorry if his words or actions made people uncomfortable.

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12 a.m.

The California Senate is weighing whether to punish a colleague after an independent investigation confirmed he likely engaged in unwanted flirtatious or sexually suggestive behavior with six women.

Senators will gather Wednesday with outside lawyers to discuss the investigation into Democratic Sen. Tony Mendoza.

An investigation released Tuesday found Mendoza “more likely than not” engaged in behavior such as offering alcohol to a 19-year-old intern in a hotel suite at a Democratic Party event, suggesting a young woman in a Senate fellowship take a vacation with him and rent a room in his house, and asked several of the women invasive questions about their dating lives.

As early as Thursday, the chamber could vote to censure, expel, suspend or reinstate him.

Mendoza called the investigation “unfair and secret.”

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