Second senator accuses Sen. Kruse of sexual harassment

More lawmakers are calling on State Senator Kruse to resign following sexual harassment accusations.

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A second woman state senator in Oregon has filed a formal sexual harassment complaint against state Sen. Jeff Kruse.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Tuesday that Sen. Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward filed the complaint, saying Kruse hugged her too close and for too long, put his hand on her thigh and sat so close their legs touched.

Steiner-Hayward is a Democrat from the Portland area. Kruse, a Republican from Roseburg, has previously denied inappropriate behavior.

The news outlet said Kruse has not returned requests for comment from The Oregonian/OregonLive since October. Kruse did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The Oregonian/OregonLive quoted Steiner-Hayward as saying she told Kruse last month the touching bothered her and that Kruse responded he did not want to have sex with her and couldn't understand why people viewed his conduct as "a big deal."

According to the complaint filed Tuesday, Kruse said he is "just a hugger" and "a lot of women cry wolf."

Sen. Sara Gelser, a Democrat from Corvallis, filed a formal complaint against Kruse on Nov. 15. Gelser said he groped her breasts several times, placed his hand on her thigh inappropriately and subjected her to unwanted kissing on the cheek.

Background: Oregon senator punished over alleged inappropriate touching

That complaint triggered a requirement that a legislative committee arrange for an outside investigation of her claims and consider the findings of the investigation in public.

The investigation is supposed to conclude early next year. The committee can recommend discipline to the full Senate. Discipline such as censure or expulsion requires a two-thirds vote.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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