Ousted Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, on Friday issued what he said might be his final comments regarding the sexual harassment claims against him, six days before his resignation becomes final.
Kruse hasn't spoken publicly, or responded to reporter inquiries, since he left the Legislature in February — and his resignation became irreversible soon after — following allegations that he groped and sexually harassed female legislators and other staffers.
In the statement, Kruse said the sexual harassment claims were scripted for the political gain of a few, the independent investigator was biased, and Democrats accused of worse were not punished.
Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, the first to publicly accuse Kruse, issued a statement in response, saying that demanding the right to be safe at work is not a script or political ploy.
"Butt cupping, unwanted shoulder massages, uninvited kisses or telling a young intern she is sexy are behaviors that are inappropriate in any workplace," Gelser wrote. "When victims speak up, we should listen, take their complaints seriously and when confirmed through an independent investigation we should hold those who commit these violations accountable, regardless of political party."
Here is Kruse's full statement:
MY FINAL NEWSLETTER
I did miss sending these during the February Session that just ended, but I also missed doing my job. For those who don’t know, I was accused of sexual harassment by two female Senators. Basically, this was all part of the “me too” movement that has swept the country. Interestingly I was not actually accused of things of a sexual nature, just inappropriate things like hugs, which have gone on in the Legislature for the whole twenty plus years I have served. The whole thing was scripted and designed to a specific end, in my opinion for the potential political gain of a few. When it became apparent that those in power were not interested in the truth I had a hard decision to make. I really wanted to have a chance for my side of this to be heard, but I wasn’t sure that would happen based on the bias the media had already demonstrated.
I have always put the Legislature and all that it means ahead of personal needs or wishes. When it became apparent that the majority party had already decided what the outcome was going to be even before all the information was available, it left me with two choices. The first would have been to go through the whole process, which would have been a major distraction especially during the short session, knowing what the outcome would be. The second was to resign so the Legislature could focus on the real business. Even though I truly wanted my due process rights I chose to resign, in the best interest of the Senate. Having said that, I would suggest those making the allegations might actually have been putting other priorities first.
I have a lot more I could say on this subject, for example the incredible bias demonstrated by the “independent investigator,” but maybe I should stop here. There was nothing fair or honest about any of this. Prime example, two members of the House were accused of worse things than I was, but because they are Democrats nothing happened. The benefits of one party rule.
It has been my honor to serve in the Legislature for the last 22 years and I have always tried to do what I thought was the right thing. I hope that some of you will remember me for my work and not this soap opera I have been going through. I appreciate all of the communications over the years as they have been very helpful. With that I will say good bye for now.
Senator Jeff Kruse