Photo: AP

Multiple members of the California Democratic party have come out with allegations of inappropriate and unwanted sexual advances by Eric Bauman, the state’s Democratic Chair, the Los Angeles Times reports. Bauman allegedly made explicit sexual comments and touched colleagues inappropriately, often in professional settings.

Bauman took a leave of absence earlier this week, after allegations began emerging. A letter from Vice Chairman Daraka Larimore-Hall last week called for Bauman’s resignation, citing “a clear and escalating pattern of Chairman Bauman’s horrific and dehumanizing behavior.”

Bauman’s responded to the allegations with a statement saying he would seek treatment for problems with alcohol use.

From the Times:

”I deeply regret if my behavior has caused pain to any of the outstanding individuals with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. I appreciate the courage it took for these individuals to come forward to tell their stories,” Bauman said.

“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,” Bauman, 59, said in his statement.

Advertisement

Bauman is gay, and the victims of his alleged behavior include men and women.

“People just didn’t know how to speak up about it,” Allan Acevedo, a political consultant, 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.”

Grace Leekley, a 21-year-old temp worker, remembered Bauman asking her at a party if she was sexually involved with another staffer, Kate Early, also 21. Leekley and Earley responded that they were not together, but Bauman wouldn’t drop the issue, saying he wouldn’t mind if they were sexually involved as long as it didn’t impact their work.

Advertisement

“I felt really embarrassed, almost ashamed, and uncomfortable,” Leekley told the Times. “I’m basically bottom-of-the-barrel staff—and he’s the most powerful man in the party. I didn’t feel comfortable saying anything.”

Others did file complaints against Bauman, which remain unresolved.

The Times details some of the other allegations:

One female staffer based in Southern California said Bauman made obscene comments to her at an official dinner in September 2017.

The staffer, who describes herself as a masculine-presenting woman, said Bauman, using explicit language, told her that she must have been a gay man in her past life because he wanted to sleep with her. She said he made another remark about men he liked to have sex with. Another party staffer told The Times that the woman discussed the incident with her soon after the event. [...]

The eight staff members each said they also experienced or witnessed Bauman engaging in unwanted touching, particularly directed toward male staffers. [...]

One of Bauman’s accusers, a Southern California man who is involved with progressive causes, said he was 17 and a high school senior when he met with Bauman, then the county chairman, in 2006 for an informational interview about building a career in politics. The man, who is gay, said he and Bauman were broadly discussing how the experience of LGBTQ people had changed over time.

He said Bauman told him in explicit language that, if it were the 1980s, Bauman would take him to the back alley and have sex with him without using protection. A friend of the man told The Times that the man recounted the incident to him in 2017.

Advertisement

Read the rest of the story at the Los Angeles Times.