California’s Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman has taken leave of his position over allegations of sexual misconduct.
Bauman said in a statement on Wednesday that he plans to seek treatment for alcohol abuse and health issues, according to CBS.
Bauman, 59, who is the CDP’s first openly gay chairman, took his leave of absence on Monday after party Vice Chairman Daraka Larimore-Hall accused Bauman of sexual harassment and assault against unnamed alleged victims last week.
The accusations came from party staffers and activists, according to the Los Angeles Times, which interviewed 10 of them for a report published Wednesday .
“I deeply regret if my behavior has caused pain to any of the outstanding individuals with whom I’ve had the privilege to work,” Bauman said in a statement Wednesday, according to the Times.
“In the interest of allowing the CDP’s independent investigation to move forward, I do not wish to respond to any of the specific allegations. However, I will use the time I am on leave to immediately seek medical intervention to address serious, ongoing health issues and to begin treatment for what I now realize is an issue with alcohol,” he said.
“Leading the California Democratic Party to historic victories has been the honor of a lifetime, and I look forward to continuing this important work upon the conclusion of the investigation and when my health allows.”
This revelation came weeks after California Democrats enjoyed sweeping victories in the midterm elections, even gaining Orange County seats that had long been held by Republicans.
The California Democratic Party has launched an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Chairman Eric Bauman involving party staff members https://t.co/gq9CMGygQU
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) November 25, 2018
However, several of those who reported abusive behavior on the part of Bauman reported that it began well before the election, and one alleged victim was even dissuaded from filing an official report by a supervisor.
Bauman, who was described by the Times as “a fixture in California and LGBTQ politics” who has “built a reputation for being brash and boisterous,” appeared to have kept his position for as long as he did partially because he is gay.
Some of those interviewed by the Times said that they were conflicted about how to deal with the allegations.
“People just didn’t know how to speak up about it,” said Allan Acevedo, a political consultant who is active in the youth arm of the party, told the Times.
“There was a sense of loyalty. Not just to him, but to any advancement that any LGBT person makes in terms of us having representation at the table.”
Bauman is accused of both unwanted physical and verbal attention by at least eight party staffers, the Times reported.
According to the Times, the party staffers said that while serving as chairman, Bauman made sexually explicit comments in the workplace to men and women “including remarks about sexual acts, his and other staffers’ genitalia, and being sexually attracted to staff members,” the Times reported.
One accuser, who describes herself as a masculine-presenting woman, said Bauman used explicit language to tell her that he thought she “must have been a gay man in her past life because he wanted to sleep with her,” according to the Times.
Another party official, a gay man, said that during professional interactions, Bauman inquired about the man’s sex life with his partner, according to the Times, while yet another member experienced multiple incidences of unwanted physical interaction with the state party chairman.
Another party official reported that he witnessed Bauman verbally taunting staff members about their sexual orientation and physical appearance on multiple occasions, according to the Times.
This behavior is in stark contrast to comments made by Bauman last November as the country was focused on the #MeToo movement when Bauman said at a speaking engagement that the party had a “100% no-tolerance policy” on sexual harassment.
“Nobody should go to work and be in fear, be looking over their shoulder or dodging down the hallway because a bully or harasser is coming,” he said, according to the Times.
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