Sexual Harassment at the California Capitol: Are There ‘Rapists’ in the Building?

The California State Assembly's point person investigating sexual harassment at the state capitol called on victims’ rights advocate and Democratic National Committeewoman Christine Pelosi Sunday to notify police if she believes a lawmaker has committed a violent sexual assault.

Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) says she was shocked to hear Pelosi’s claim that there are "rapists in this building" during a hearing of her committee Tuesday at the state capitol.

"If I knew that there was one of my colleagues or anyone in the building who was a rapist, I would go to law enforcement right away … even if i heard it as a rumor … that’s a very serious and frightening thing to hear." 

Friedman’s comments were broadcast Sunday morning on NBC4’s "News Conference" program.

Pelosi, the daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and chair of the California Democratic Party’s Women’s Caucus, said earlier in the broadcast that she had heard stories from victims involving a variety of sexual harassment and assault, including forced oral copulation and rape. She said naming the perpetrators was up to the victims.

"If you just look at the blowback I got for saying there are rapists in the capitol you can just imagine the blowback that someone would get for naming one … we have to have whistleblower protections … let's put in some ability for people to tell their story and be protected."

Also appearing was lobbyist Pamela Lopez who spoke of how one current member of the legislature exposed himself and masturbated in front of her in a restroom. She also discussed being groped and of "quid pro quo" sexual harassment with lawmakers appearing to pledge to help her clients in exchange for sex. Lopez called requests for her to provide names of alleged abusers a form of "victim blaming." 

"It is the perpetrators fault and it’s our fault as a community for not taking action to make sure workspaces are safe for women," she said.

On a related issue Assemblywoman Friedman took issue with a constituent letter posted by State Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) which appeared to blame accusations of inappropriate behavior against him on the news media. The letter, posted on the lawmakers Facebook page, stated that "some media look to capitalize on the national climate" to generate news stories "to gain ratings shares." Mendoza has denied the allegations.

"It left a bad taste in my mouth," Friedman told NBC4. "To basically call her [the accuser] a liar in what’s supposed to be a holiday email to his constituents didn’t seem like the appropriate response." 

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