An investigation has determined a California senator likely engaged in six instances of flirtatious or sexually suggestive behavior with female staff members and lobbyists in the past decade.
The independent investigation released Tuesday, which the California Senate requested be done by outside lawyers, found that Sen.
He stepped down as the Senate was expected to consider a resolution introduced by de Leon that sought to expel Mendoza, citing the conclusions of the investigation and the body's zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment.
"I refuse to participate any further in the farcical "investigation" against me that ignores the Senate's own rules, invests processes, criteria and standards as needed, ignores due process and constitutional rights to self-defense all for the goal of playing to election year politicking", Mendoza wrote in his letter.
Mendoza argued in his resignation letter that the "more likely than not" was a low standard of proof not meriting a penalty as high as expulsion.
"None of these women alleged they had a sexual relationship with Mendoza or that he had been physically aggressive or sexually crude towards them", the report said.
"However, the recipients of this unwelcome behavior understood that Mendoza was suggesting sexual contact", according to the report. He is suing the Senate over its handling of the complaints, alleging he was denied due process.
In November, around the time the allegations against Mendoza surfaced, the committee announced new rules on how sexual assault allegations within the Legislature would be handled. Senators could vote to censure, suspend, expel or impose other sanctions on their colleague. Leland Yee, Ron Calderon and Rod Wright - all facing felony charges - were suspended, but with pay.
Mendoza wrote that the summarized findings don't match his own memory or perception of the incidents, but he says he's sorry if his words or actions made people uncomfortable. After reviewing the full report and conferring with some members of the #Me Too movement, they agreed it was more appropriate to suspend the Democrat without pay through the end of the year, when his term ends, said Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates. All six, including a then-19-year-old intern, said they "personally experienced unwanted flirtatious or sexually suggestive behavior", and his subordinates "believed that complaining about his conduct could put their careers at risk".
He did not directly address the investigation's other findings.
Mendoza, 46, submitted a terse resignation letter while the Senate prepared for a vote on a resolution to expel him.
Meanwhile, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia is on leave after being accused of groping a male legislative staffer.
Two other Los Angeles-area Democratic representatives, Raul Bocanegra and Matt Dababneh, resigned last fall.