Could Capitol Sexual Harassment Investigation May Do More Harm Than Good?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The investigation into sexual harassment allegations at the state capitol is less than a week old, but the accusers who sparked the investigation fear they’re being set up to be re-victimized.

“I was rushed into a restroom, spun around and realized there was a lawmaker behind me who had locked the door and who had exposed himself,” said Pamela Lopez.

Pamela Lopez, a Sacramento lobbyist, managed to safely get away from that alleged harasser. She still won’t name him.

But her story has not only motivated hundreds of women to share their own experiences; it’s sparked investigations by the California Senate and Assembly.

The problem is, Lopez says, that political process is making her and other victims feel “retraumatized, rather than protected.”

“Those investigations are shaped to “get to the bottom of things,” but they end up interrogating victims,” said Lopez.

But a spokesman for state Sen. President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon who hired the outside firm, says legislators will be interviewed to determine what actionable steps may be taken.

“When I see the hashtag me too, I’m like, who not?” said state Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkley).

She says the women’s caucus is working with victims to propose changes at the Capitol. The Assembly has also announced it will hold hearings to address the issue.

But lobbyists say they’re not looking for a formal policy or an investigation.

What they want is simple: an open conversation with legislative leadership about what can be done to change a “pervasive culture” of sexual harassment in California politics.

“It’s changing the mindset that this is an old boys club and that women who are here, have to be sort of subject to whatever it is that we will be subjected to, whether we like it or not,” said Lopez.

For now, Lopez says, she’s helping organize a private day of support for women.

It’ll offer counseling and legal services; and will look into a plan for improving how complaints are reported and addressed.

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