BERKELEY (KPIX) — There are claims of rampant sexual harassment at the California state capitol.
Now, KPIX has learned of one East Bay lawmaker, who knew of the complaints, and said nothing.
State Senator Nancy Skinner is a vocal supporter of women’s rights, so her silence on the matter of Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra’s sexual harassment case is surprising.
But KPIX learned this isn’t the first time she’s been silent when it comes to sexual harassment and Assemblyman Bocanegra.
Skinner described one reason why sexual harassment is widespread at the state capitol.
“We socialize,” said Skinner. “There’s a blur between our work life and our social life.”
Just days later, it became apparent just how right she was.
Elise Flynn Gyore came forward to tell her story about an after-hours work event in 2009 when Bocanegra followed her and grabbed her breast. After an investigation, the Assembly Rules Committee decided it was “more likely than not that Mr. Bocanegra engaged in behavior that night which does not meet the Assembly’s expectations for professionalism.” he was ordered to stay away from Gyore.
Three years later, he ran for Assembly in the San Fernando Valley with the full backing of the Democratic Party. Voters, who had no idea about the prior incident, elected him in 2012 and again in 2016. Now he’s a member of Democratic Party leadership.
But before he was ever elected, a group of women tried to get the file on Bocanegra
KPIX obtained a copy of a letter, sent on May 8, 2012 to Nancy Skinner, who at the time, was the chairwoman of the Assembly Rules Committee. It is basically the Human Resources department for the Assembly.
The letter says “we have learned…that a complaint of sexual harassment was filed against Raul Bocanegra… and Raul Bocanegra is running for Assembly in the 39th Assembly District, and we believe that voters have the right to know the facts about the people who are running to represent them. We are asking that you please make public any sexual harassment complaints made against Raul Bocanegra, including what the investigation found of said complaint and whether or not a financial settlement of any kind was reached. The public is being denied due process in making an informed decision on their next representative without the facts of just who is this man – Raul Bocanegra.”
The letter is signed by eleven women. We spoke to one of them who confirmed, Nancy Skinner never responded to their request.
Skinner is now a state Senator representing Berkeley. For the last three days KPIX has asked for an interview, to discuss the letter. She has refused.
KPIX gave Senator Skinner’s office the option of sending a written statement explaining why she never responded to the 2012 letter, but so far, she hasn’t sent one.