Latest Capitol harassment case: Sexual talk by GOP Assemblyman Devon Mathis

A Republican from the Central Valley is the latest California lawmaker found to have violated the Capitol’s sexual harassment policy. An investigation found that Assemblyman Devon Mathis of Visalia made frequent sexual comments, but determined there is not enough evidence to prove more serious allegations of sexual assault.

A redacted letter released by the Assembly Rules Committee says its investigation substantiated the claim that Mathis “frequently engaged in sexual ‘locker room talk,’ including making sexual comments about fellow Assemblymembers.” Mathis released an un-redacted version of the letter, which says the investigation found another allegation was not substantiated. The letter does not describe the unsubstantiated allegation but his chief of staff, Justin Turner, said it was the same claim published in a blog post last year accusing Mathis of sexual assault.

“The locker-room conversation referenced in the letter, that took place almost four years ago, was wrong and something for which I have previously apologized and do so again,” Mathis said in a statement.

The letter says the Assembly took “appropriate remedial actions” against Mathis, which the Speaker’s Office described as sensitivity training and counseling on the Assembly’s harassment policy.

Mathis’ case is the latest harassment investigation to be made public by the California Legislature in the wake of the global #MeToo movement that began last year and exposed many cases of misconduct inside the state Capitol. It prompted lawmakers to create a new protocol for handling sexual harassment investigations—though it won’t go into effect until next year.

Pressure from the media and victims’ advocates also prompted legislative leaders to make public some records that document substantiated harassment cases—records that had long been shielded from public view.  The spreadsheet below lists all cases the Legislature has made public. I created it when the Legislature began releasing records in February and am updating it as each new case is released. You can scroll to the right for links to source documents.

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