A California assemblyman announced Monday that he will not seek re-election next year after a woman accused him of groping her at a public event eight years ago.
Raul Bocanegra, a Los Angeles Democrat, said he’ll immediately step down from his leadership post as majority whip and end his re-election campaign. He said he will remain in the State Assembly until Sept. 1, 2018, but will not run for re-election.
Mr. Bocanegra’s announcement comes after The Los Angeles Times contacted the assemblyman Friday about a story it was preparing saying six women had accused him of sexual harassment, the paper said.
It also follows a report last month by The Times saying Mr. Bocanegra had been disciplined in a human resources investigation in 2009 after a female Capitol staffer accused the then-Assembly chief of staff of “inappropriate and unwelcome physical contact.”
Mr. Bocanegra apologized in his statement but said the speculation surrounding the 2009 incident had spiraled out of control.
“As you may know, news stories were reported a few weeks ago about a regrettable encounter when I was a legislative staffer in 2009,” he wrote. “It was a moment that I truly regret, that I am very sorry for, and for which I have accepted responsibility for my actions. These news reports have since fueled persistent rumors and speculation, and I do not believe that this is in the best interest of my constituents to continue to serve next term.
“I have sought counsel from community members and constituents,” he continued. “After much discussion and reflection, the most prudent decision to avoid another costly special election in Los Angeles and ensure our community is not left without any representation in the State Assembly would be for me to resign at the end of the legislative session. I will spend this time focusing my energy on serving my constituents. This is a very difficult decision. But I know that it is the best decision for the Northeast Valley residents.”
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, a Democrat, demanded that Mr. Bocanegra resign immediately.