L.A. Assemblyman Quits, But Denies Sexual Harassment Claims

3 min
California State Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra has resigned after being accused of sexual misconduct. (California State Assembly)

Facing allegations of sexual harassment from numerous women, Los Angeles Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) announced today he was resigning effective immediately.

Unlike other public figures accused of sexual misbehavior, Bocanegra did not take responsibility or apologize to his accusers.

"I believed in our system of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and that the truth would come out clearing my name and reputation," Bocanegra wrote on his Facebook page. "But clearly, the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ has been temporarily lost in a hurricane of political opportunism among the self-righteous in my case -- to the detriment of both the accuser and the accused."

Bocanegra went on to proclaim his innocence, saying: "It is my hope that in taking this action we can help clear the path so that women and men who have been truly victims of sexual assault and workplace harassment can step forward and get justice for any crimes committed against them. While I am not guilty of any such crimes, I am admittedly not perfect."


"It’s a very bizarre statement to me," said Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson. "It's circular and jumbled. It may be a product of his conflict and his anger."

She added, "He's basically saying that I've done stuff that’s short of criminal conduct."

Legislative staffer Elise Flynn Gyore said Bocanegra put his hands inside her blouse at an after-work event at a Sacramento nightclub in 2009. At the time, Bocanegra was chief of staff to then-Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes. He was later elected to the Assembly in 2012.

Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported six additional women accused Bocanegra of sexual misconduct.

Earlier this month, Bocanegra announced he would resign next September, shortly before the end of his term. Today he said that "upon further reflection during the recent holiday weekend, and conversations with family, friends, supporters, I have decided to resign earlier from the State Assembly effective immediately, which was my original intention."

The resignation comes a day before the first of several hearings in the state Assembly aimed at changing a culture that has led to a wave of allegations, following a letter describing rampant sexual harassment in and around the Capitol.

"Raul Bocanegra's resignation underscores the seriousness of the allegations against him," wrote Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon on Twitter. "One resignation, however, does not solve the problem."

He added that "the Assembly will keep working to change the climate in the Capitol to stop sexual harassment and abuse."

Another Southern California Senator, Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), is also being investigated over claims of unwanted sexual advances. Today the Senate Rules Committee stripped Mendoza of his leadership positions pending the outcome of the investigation. In a statement, Mendoza says he welcomes the committee's actions to seek outside Counsel.

"I understand the Rules Committee's decision to relieve me from the Committee Chairmanship to remove any perception of bias during its investigation of the unsubstantiated allegations against me," he says.

One accuser, lobbyist Pamela Lopez, is expected to soon name the legislator she says followed her into a women's bathroom, unzipped his pants and asked her to touch his genitals.