BEND, OR -- Oregon State Senator Jeff Kruse continues to deny allegations of sexual harassment by two female legislators, but he announced Thursday night that he will resign, effective March 15.
State Representative Julie Parrish (R-West Linn) says it's the right decision, "I have to say, I thank him for the decency to do it; certainly thank him for his 22 years of service to the State in being a good public policy maker." In referencing an independent report that backs up the claims of misconduct, Parrish added, "The report is pretty strong, and it was just untenable for him to continue in this position."
Senate President Peter Courtney says this is the best outcome, "I’m glad that it’s over. This has been an agony for the women who have come forward, this has been an agony for the Senate, this has been an agony for the people in his Senate District."
State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) was appalled by the allegations levelled against Senator Kruse. He says he personally asked him to resign, as Knopp believes Kruse is no longer qualified to serve because of how he behaved towards women with whom he came into contact. "In the report itself, there's two that filed complaints, but there are many other people who corroborated stories and told stories of incidents of their own. He had been warned in March of 2016, and continued to engage in the behavior that he had been warned about and, in the report, he says admittedly, that he did not take it seriously and wanted to continue to touch women."
Initially, the Republican Senate Caucus said it would wait for a decision from the Senate Committee on Conduct before deciding how to move forward. But Knopp broke from his party in calling for Kruse's resignation earlier in the week, saying he believes the allegations. "I can't speak for them, I can only speak for myself. I continue to believe that there is clear and convincing evidence, corroborated by witnesses, that Senator Kruse violated our workplace harassment rules and, as Senators and Representatives, we are here to create a safe workplace environment and that clearly did not happen. He broke the trust."
Knopp didn't want to subject the women who've accused Kruse to a public hearing, "No one should be treated the way the staff, and interns, and fellow colleagues, were treated, and I think there has been a culture in Oregon in both the public and private sectors and some employers, that says that the harassment is okay, and that the women just have to accept it to keep their jobs or advance in their careers and I say that culture must end now."
Kruse continues to deny the allegations.