Oregon state senator faces second complaint

FILE -- Sen. Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward, D-Portland/Beaverton, at a hearing at the Oregon State Capitol. (Image from Oregon Capitol video)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A second woman state senator in Oregon has filed a formal sexual harassment complaint against state Sen. Jeff Kruse.

KATU News has confirmed Sen. Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward filed the complaint, saying Kruse hugged her too close and for too long, put his hand on her thigh and sat so close their legs touched.

Steiner-Hayward is a Democrat from the Portland area. Kruse, a Republican from Roseburg, has previously denied inappropriate behavior.

Kruse did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

According to the complaint filed Tuesday, Kruse said he is "just a hugger" and "a lot of women cry wolf."

Sen. Sara Gelser, a Democrat from Corvallis, filed a formal complaint against Kruse on Nov. 15. Gelser said he groped her breasts several times, placed his hand on her thigh inappropriately and subjected her to unwanted kissing on the cheek.

That complaint triggered a requirement that a legislative committee arrange for an outside investigation of her claims and consider the findings of the investigation in public.

The investigation is supposed to conclude early next year. The committee can recommend discipline to the full Senate. Discipline such as censure or expulsion requires a two-thirds vote.

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