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Poll: More Than Half Of Oregon Women Have Been Sexually Harassed

<p>Oregon Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, is pictured at the Oregon Capitol in this undated file photo.&nbsp;</p>

Casey Minter


Oregon Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, is pictured at the Oregon Capitol in this undated file photo. 

More than half of the women surveyed in  said they have been sexually harassed.

While 55 percent of women responded they have been subjected to sexual harassment, only 18 percent of men who responded said they’ve been harassed.   from Jan. 25-31. The margin of error on the survey is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

And while sexual harassment allegations against politicians, entertainers and business leaders continue to dominate the national dialogue, more women continue to believe the topic is being underreported compared to men. Of those surveyed, 33 percent of women thought there should be more news coverage on the topic, while only 15 percent of men believed it should be discussed more.

The sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein kicked off the debate that has now been felt in nearly every industry. It has also spread to statehouses across the country, including Salem.

The 2018 legislative session kicked off this week with the investigation into Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, looming. Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, accused Kruse of inappropriately touching her starting in 2011 and spanning over several years.

Both Gelser and Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Portland, filed formal complaints against Kruse. Gelser gave a detailed account of Kruse’s alleged harassment of her at the Oregon Capitol. She accused him of touching her breasts and placing his hand on her thigh under a dais. In her complaint, she also stated that as many as 15 other women have accused Kruse of unwanted touching.

Kruse was stripped of his committee assignments because of the allegations of inappropriate touching. Both Gelser and Steiner Hayward said there are other “women staff members and lobbyists who have also been subjected to inappropriate behavior by Sen. Kruse.”

An independent investigator was hired to report to the Legislature's special committee on conduct.

The committee is expected to hold a hearing within 45 days of the report becoming public. After that, the committee could recommend discipline or ask the full Senate to expel Kruse. It would take 23 votes from Senators to kick Kruse out of office. The Senate has 17 Democrats and 13 Republicans.

Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, has said that the Kruse hearings could dominate the session “in ways we can’t understand and know right now.”

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Lauren Dake is a political reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. Before OPB, Lauren spent nearly a decade working as a print reporter. She’s covered politics and rural issues in Oregon and Washington.