De Leon Announces ‘Unprecedented’ Action on Sexual Harassment at Capitol

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SACRAMENTO -- California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon said Thursday he plans to tackle the "culture of pervasive sexual harassment" at the Capitol by hiring outside law firms to investigate that misconduct.

The firms are Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Van Dermyden Maddux. They have established a hotline for people to call to report misbehavior.

De Leon says he plans to soon release more detailed information about complaints and investigations against lawmakers to reporters.

The Democratic Senate leader also called on Sen. Tony Mendoza take a leave of absence amid a sexual misconduct probe.

De Leon said Thursday that Mendoza hasn't yet agreed to the request. The Senate is investigating three claims of sexual misconduct by Mendoza toward young women who worked for him. De Leon and Mendoza used to share a home in Sacramento.

De Leon called the move unprecedented.

Mendoza said in a statement that he would never have knowingly abused his authority.

FOX40 reported on Wednesday that Sen. Bob Hertzberg -- often nicknamed "Huggy Bear" -- was accused of inappropriate hugging. De Leon says Hertzberg's case is already being referred to the independent investigator.

In recent months, two state assemblymen have resigned amid sexual misconduct investigations -- Raul Bocanegra and Matt Debabneh. The Assembly held sexual harassment hearings in November. Thursday's announcement applies to the Senate.