OR state senator files formal sexual harassment complaint agains - KPTV - FOX 12

OR state senator files formal sexual harassment complaint against Sen. Jeff Kruse

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SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

After speaking out about alleged sexual harassment in Salem, an Oregon senator has filed an official complaint against Sen. Jeff Kruse.

Sen. Sara Gelser said Kruse started harassing her and touching her inappropriately six years ago.

She also claims at least 15 other women have similar stories regarding Kruse.

Gelser filed her formal complaint Wednesday, which included detailed accounts of alleged harassment and touching by  Kruse.

While sitting at her desk on the house floor in 2011, Gelser claims,“He leaned forward from behind my back, and ran both of his hands and arms down my shoulders and across my breasts. He then crossed his arms over the front of my body and squeezed me in a hug with his hands on my hips. He then rested his head first on my head and then my shoulder. I was stunned and frozen.”

Just recently, during the 2017 session, Gelser said Kruse hugged and groped her again until another senator told him to get his hands off her. Gelser writes, “Senator Kruse backed off and responded something to the effect of: 'Oh, she doesn’t mind.'"

Newly elected Republican Senate Leader Jackie Winters said they are launching an independent investigation into Gelser’s claims and a conduct committee will review the findings. Winters said  she has never witnessed any inappropriate behavior by Kruse, but after working in state government since the 1960s, Winters is glad women are speaking up and being taken seriously.

“As you know, the whole issue with Weinstein has opened up the floodgates,” said Winters, referring to the allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. “And so now, it’s how we – when I say we, I’m talking about all of us – get together to avoid this occurring again.”

Kruse was warned last year not to touch women at the Captiol and he allegedly kept doing it. Oregon Democratic Party Chair Jeanne Atkins feels the only right move is for Kruse to resign.

“I think that by setting an example, by acknowledging the problem that he has created by resigning, would set a good example that there can be something done about this,” said Atkins.

Republican Rep. Knute Buehler - who is planning to run for governor next year – is also calling on Kruse to resign.

FOX 12 called and emailed Kruse to get a comment about the complaint, but he has not responded.

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