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Accused of sexual misconduct, state Sen. Tony Mendoza takes leave of absence

By in Press Enterprise on January 4, 2018

By Staff and news service reports

SACRAMENTO — Democratic Sen. Tony Mendoza is taking a voluntary month-long leave of absence amid an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct toward young women who worked for him.

Mendoza’s announcement came after four hours of closed door meetings Wednesday by Senate Democrats. The Artesia senator steadfastly refused calls to step aside for weeks and reiterated that defiant tone the morning before senators met.

In a brief statement, he didn’t say what changed his mind. He’ll be paid during the month.

Mendoza says he’ll come back Feb. 1 or sooner if the investigation concludes. The Senate has hired outside law firms to look into the allegations against him, but Mendoza says he has no indication the investigation has begun. He says he looks forward to clearing his name.

He’s accused of misconduct including offering a young woman staff member alcohol when she was underage and inviting another to his home. One of his former staff members has filed a formal complaint with the state alleging she was fired for reporting the behavior.

The California Senate’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations against Mendoza was a key topic for lawmakers as they returned to the state capitol on Wednesday.

Mendoza, a Democrat, has been resisting pressure to step aside amid an investigation into allegations of misconduct toward three young women who worked for him. Sen. Andy Vidak, a Republican from Hanford, planned to introduce a resolution to expel him, which could put the chamber’s ruling Democrats in a tricky spot.

“It is my hope that the Senate and Senate Rules Committee will afford me the opportunity to clear my name and, until that opportunity is granted, treat me with the same standards applied to other senators similarly accused,” Mendoza, who is up for re-election in 2018, said before the session was set to begin.

The jockeying follows […]    

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