California State Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) announced Tuesday that he will resign next year after six women accused him of making unwanted sexual advances and unwelcome statements toward them.
The six women told the Los Angeles Times that Bocanegra sexually harassed them after the Assembly Rules Committee disciplined him for similar behavior in 2009.
The accusations date back to when Bocanegra, 46, served as a chief of staff, but he has also faced more recent allegations around the time he ran for office, and most recently while serving as a state legislator.
The women accused Bocanegra of a range of offenses, such as initiating unsolicited physical contact and emailing them soliciting dates.
“He grabbed me with one hand, grabbed my head and shoved his tongue into my mouth,” one of the women, Sylvia Castillo, told the Times this month. “With his other hand, he put it up my dress. I put my hand down to stop him from trying to grab at my crotch.”
After the allegations became public, Bocanegra announced Monday that he would resign next year and not run for re-election.
“These news reports have since fueled persistent rumors and speculation, and I do not believe that this is in the best interest of my constituents to continue to serve next term,” he said, according to the Times. “This is a very difficult decision. But I know that it is the best decision for the Northeast Valley residents.”
The increase in sexual harassment reports in the California statehouse comes after the California State Assembly announced in October that the legislative body would hold public hearings on sexual harassment in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood.
The California Senate, however, outsourced a recent investigation of sexual harassment claims to an outside, independent law firm.