SACRAMENTO (AP) — California Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra resigned Monday following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, making him the first lawmaker to leave office amid a spate of harassment reports that has rocked the state Capitol.
The Los Angeles Democrat had previously said he wouldn’t seek re-election and would leave office at the end of the next legislative session. But on Monday, Bocanegra said that he’s decided to leave immediately following reflection over the Thanksgiving weekend and conversations with family, friends and supporters.
In a statement released by his office, Bocanegra said he’s not guilty of any crimes, but “I am admittedly not perfect.”
“I believed in our system of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and that the truth would come out clearing my name and reputation,” Bocanegra wrote. “But clearly, the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ has been temporarily lost in a hurricane of political opportunism among the self-righteous in my case – to the detriment of both the accuser and the accused.”
Allegations against Bocanegra first came to light last month, when legislative staff member Elise Gyore said she had reported him to Assembly investigators in 2009, when both were staff members, after he stalked her around a nightclub and put his hands down her blouse at an after-work event. He was told to stay away from her but not otherwise disciplined by the Assembly Rules Committee.
The Los Angeles Times reported last week that Bocanegra is accused of groping or kissing numerous other women without their consent over a period of years, even after he was reprimanded for his behavior toward Gyore in 2009.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced that he would expel Bocanegra if an investigator verifies the new allegations.
Bocanegra’s resignation comes as the Senate Rules Committee was scheduled to meet to strip state Sen. Tony Mendoza of his committee chairmanship amid a misconduct probe. Mendoza is a Democrat from Artesia, near Los Angeles.