State senator files formal complaint calling for expulsion of Roseburg colleague
SALEM, Ore. - A state senator from Corvallis filed a formal complaint Wednesday calling for the expulsion of a state senator from Roseburg from the Oregon Legislature.
"As Senators, we are mandated to maintain a harassment-free workplace," Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, wrote. "It is my request that an independent investigator be appointed as per the rule to look carefully at the scope of this problem in the House and Senate with Senator Kruse, and that the Committee on Conduct recommend a sanction of expulsion from the Oregon State Senate."
Kruse came under scrutiny recently after Senate President Peter Courtney stripped the Roseburg Republican of his committee assignments.
"Women in the Capitol do not want you to touch them," Courtney told Kruse in a letter.
Oregon State Police also investigated a video found online that appears to show Kruse in a compromising situation.
Kruse had rejected Gelser's past suggestions that he had harassed her.
"The people that know me, know that this is a political witch hunt," Kruse said last week. "There have been no details. Nothing has been revealed, so it's awful hard for me to comment when I don't know what I supposedly did or who's involved."
In her complaint, Gelser alleged incidents dating back to her time in the state House of Representatives.
"One one occasion in 2011, Senator Kruse approached me from behind my seat at my House floor desk," Gelser wrote. "He leaned forward from behind my back, and ran both of his hands and arms down my shoulders and across my breasts. He then crossed his arms over the front of my body and squeezed me in a hug with his hands on my hips. He then rested his head first on my head and then my shoulder."
Gelser describes apprehension about putting herself in situations where Kruse was present in 2013. And in 2015, Gelser said she shared three of four committee assignments in the state Senate with Kruse.
"On the occasions when I was seated next to Senator Kruse, I experienced hugging, whispering that left my ear wet, and on at least one occasion he placed his hand on my thigh beneath the dais during the hearing."
Gelser also describes separate incidents witnessed by Sen. Chris Edwards and Sen. Ginny Burdick in which the senators intervened.
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