Senate Changes Process for Vetting Sexual Harassment Claims

SACRAMENTO, Calif.  — The California Senate is changing its process for investigating sexual misconduct complaints following new allegations against a sitting Democratic senator.

The Senate announced Sunday night it will hire an independent legal team to investigate allegations of sexual harassment and abuse and recommend discipline. Senate leaders say findings of investigations will be made public at the discretion of victims and whistleblowers.

The Senate Rules Committee, made up of five lawmakers, and the human resources department that works under its supervision currently handles harassment complaints. Details of complaints and discipline are not made public.

The changes come after allegations that Sen. Tony Mendoza sexually harassed at least two women who formerly worked in his office. The allegations against him will be reviewed by the new outside legal team. Mendoza denies behaving inappropriately.