Gov. Jerry Brown said he believes the California Legislature is taking seriously the growing calls for attention to widespread allegations of sexual harassment and assault around the Capitol.
“Obviously a lot of women have experienced things that should have never happened,” Brown told reporters Saturday in Rome, where he was attending a climate summit organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. “How to work through that is something that the Legislature I think is taking seriously.”
Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, one of the women who drew attention to the issue by signing an Oct. 17 letter, announced Friday that the first subcommittee hearing focused on preventing harassment, discrimination and retaliation would be held later this month.
In a statement, Friedman said the hearings would outline current policies, and ask people who work in the Capitol community to help officials determine what actions can be taken to change the culture, improve the policies and ensure victims of harassment and abuse feel protected from retaliation when reporting such incidents.
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State Senate leaders retained two firms to investigate allegations of pervasive culture of sexual harassment after release of the letter signed by hundreds of women.
A Sacramento Bee examination of sexual harassment cases involving state agencies and public universities showed that millions of dollars have been paid out in recent years to settle claims without public accountability for the outcomes.
Brown had not spoken publicly about the letter, but his office did issue a statement earlier saying the administration has zero tolerance for harassment and supports the brave women speaking out.
Asked whether the administration has a role in sorting out the allegations, Brown said he wasn’t prepared “on the streets of Rome to offer that conclusion.”