The Oregon Legislature today released the results of an investigation into the conduct of state Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg) who faced sexual harassment allegations from two colleagues, Sen. Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis) and Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Portland).
"The evidence in this investigation established that Senator Kruse has engaged in a pattern of conduct that was offensive to Senator Gelser and Senator Steiner Hayward, as well as other legislators and employees at the Capitol," wrote Dian Rubanoff, the independent investigator hired to examine Kruse's behavior, in a 51-page report.
"There is a longstanding pattern of Senator Kruse engaging in unwelcome physical contact toward females in the workplace, including Senator Gelser and Senator Steiner Hayward, and that he stubbornly refused to change that behavior after being warned about it in March 2016."
The Oregonian first reported that Gelser had filed a complaint in with legislative officials on Nov. 15, 2017 alleging that Kruse began harassing her in 2011 when she was a member of the Oregon House and continued touching her inappropriately since. Steiner Hayward filed a complaint Nov. 21.
Kruse denied any wrongdoing. His story took a bizarre turn when he claimed he'd been the victim of extortion related to visits to internet chat room.
Throughout her report, Rubanoff makes clear that Kruse regularly violated the standards of conduct expected of state senators.
In the conclusion of her report, Rubanoff says the decision of what to do is up to the Senate Conduct Committee.
"As an investigator who spent several hours interviewing Senator Kruse on two occasions, and based on his statements to me in those interviews, I am concerned that if Senator Kruse is allowed to stay in the Legislature without specific conditions that he needs to satisfy, and if there is not a continuing prospect of serious consequences if he fails to satisfy those conditions, he may 'fall back into old patterns' again," Rubanoff wrote.
"I am also concerned about the message that will be sent to women in the workplace regarding the futility of coming forward if there are not meaningful consequences for Senator Kruse's failure to heed the warnings and instructions he received from [Legislative Counsel] Dexter Johnson and Lore Christopher after the informal reports were made in 2016."
"It is clear that the informal reporting process under the personnel rule exists for a purpose, and that purpose will be defeated if it is viewed as a "free pass."
The four-member Senate Conduct Committee will review Rubanoff's report on Feb. 22.