Nobody who read this week's report into the behavior of state Sen. Jeff Kruse could have been surprised by the news Thursday that the Roseburg Republican would resign.

Until he announced his resignation, Kruse had maintained that he would not step down. And, even in his resignation letter, he continued to deny allegations that he had sexually harassed women in the Oregon Capitol.

But that doesn't entirely jibe with what he told Dian Rubanoff, an employment law attorney, during her investigation. Rubanoff reported that Kruse did not deny many of the allegations and told the attorney that he did not recall many of the incidents. He did say that any such conduct was not intended to be sexual in nature.

In his letter of resignation, Kruse wrote that "For civil rights to be meaningful, there must be civil rights for all people, including the right to fundamental fairness for persons accused of harassment."

But if the defense Kruse planned to offer to the Senate Conduct Committee on Feb. 22 was anything like the defense he offered to Rubanoff, the senator didn't have a leg to stand on.

Indeed, Rubanoff concluded that Kruse continued a pattern of unwelcome physical contact with two female senators, gave lengthy unwanted hugs to other women at the Oregon Capitol and created a hostile workplace. Rubanoff also found that Kruse did not change his behavior toward women at the Capitol despite receiving warnings.

By early March 2016, Rubanoff wrote, "Senator Kruse was on notice that female Senators had complained about him, and he was given specific guidelines about conduct to avoid with women in the workplace in the future. By his own admission, Senator Kruse chose not to make changes in his behavior because he did not know which females had found his conduct to be offensive, and he did not want to change his behavior with everyone."

The report eroded whatever vestiges of support Kruse had in the Capitol. He must finally have seen that this matter would end with the full Senate sanctioning him and potentially booting him from the Legislature.

Kruse's resignation in and of itself will not rid the Capitol of sexual harassment; indeed, a recent national report outlined the ways in which statehouses are fertile grounds for such behavior. But the resignation underlines an important point: In at least some cases, real consequences await harassers.

 

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