Sen. Jeff Kruse resigns, but continues to deny allegations of se - KPTV - FOX 12

Sen. Jeff Kruse resigns, but continues to deny allegations of sexual harassment

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SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

Oregon state Sen. Jeff Kruse has resigned, while continuing to deny allegations of sexual harassment at the Capitol.

Kruse issued a statement Thursday saying he was tendering his resignation, “so my colleagues may focus on serving Oregonians without distraction and my constituents may receive the fullest representation they are due.”

Kruse has been in the state legislature for 22 years.

“I continue to deny these allegations and I regret that I will not have the opportunity to defend myself before the Senate Conduct Committee,” Kruse said in a statement Thursday.

A report from an independent investigator this week alleged Kruse has a longstanding pattern of harassment toward women, including unwanted touching, groping and kissing.

The report states Kruse was warned about his behavior, but he did not stop, even joking about sexual harassment training and telling another senator that, “a lot of women cry wolf.”

The Senate Republican Caucus released a statement Wednesday saying, “The report stands on its own,” and, “The behavior alleged in the report, if true, is obviously not acceptable to the Senate Republican Caucus.”

Some lawmakers, including Gov. Kate Brown, had called for Kruse to step down this week. His resignation is effective March 15. 

"Time is up on this. It is done, it is over, and women have the right to be safe at work," said Sen. Sara Gelser.

Gelser was the woman who sparked the investigation into Kruse after filing a sexual harassment complaint against him. She says his resignation is not a win.

"There's no victory in sexual harassment, it never should have happened," said Gelser.

"There's clearly work to be done, not just inside these walls but the whole country. The "Me Too" movement is something we need to pay attention to," said Sen. Lew Frederick.

Sen. Jackie Winters released a statement Thursday on Kruse, saying, "He has been a true advocate for his district and rural Oregon. As we move forward, we must work to provide a safe work environment for all."

Kruse, who has served Curry County and portions of Coos, Douglas, Josephine and Jackson counties, said, “I look forward to returning to the wonderful community that has supported me for over two decades.”

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