Oregon lawmaker faces sexual harassment accusations

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Seven people have accused an Oregon state representative of harassment, prompting calls for his resignation.

Rep. Diego Hernandez, D-Portland, is the subject of accusations ranging from verbal and physical sexual harassment to creating a hostile work environment, KGW-TV reported.

The interim House Conduct Committee on Monday implemented safety measures against Hernandez, including a requirement that he provides notice 24 hours before entering the Capitol. Lawmakers also ordered no contact between Hernandez and the people who reported him.

Hernandez didn’t participate in the hearing. In a statement, he asked people to “withhold judgment until the investigation is complete.”

“I have no idea what the concerns raised are or by whom,” he wrote. “I do know that there has been an organized campaign against me recently to get me out of the office I was duly elected to, and I was threatened this would happen if I didn’t resign.”

He said he hopes the investigatory process is fair.

House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, said in a statement Monday she was concerned people may feel unsafe or subject to retaliation from Hernandez.

“The House Conduct Committee’s action today is a very serious development,” Kotek said. “I believe Rep. Hernandez should resign from the Legislature and focus completely on getting the support he needs.”

Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, also called for Rep. Hernandez’s resignation in a statement on Twitter. She said she has heard directly from two of his accusers.

Hernandez, who is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination for State Representative District 47, was first elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 2016.

In 2017, he was accused of making a list ranking female lobbyists by their physical attributes. He denied the allegations.

Earlier this year, Hernandez announced he was taking a leave of absence from the Legislature after domestic violence allegations against him surfaced.

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