Sen. Sara Gelser has named Sen. Jeff Kruse as the person who allegedly inappropriately touched her. She told The Oregonian on Monday that it had been happening for years.

Kruse, R-Roseburg, told The News-Review he doesn’t recall giving Gelser anything more than a side hug. He said that doesn’t seem inappropriate to him.

Kruse was stripped of all committee assignments Friday, a move that effectively bars him from introducing or influencing legislation. At the time, Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat, suggested “ongoing workplace issues” were involved. One of them was Kruse’s long, and admitted, habit of smoking in his office. But press reports almost immediately linked the discipline against Kruse with tweets from Gelser, D-Corvallis, who mentioned personal experience with having been inappropriately touched by a fellow senator, and indicated she had reported such conduct to the Senate.

Gelser’s comments to The Oregonian Monday confirmed the connection.

Kruse told The News-Review he still has not received any official word detailing the accusations against him.

“I still don’t have a lot of information. They still aren’t telling me anything,” he said.

Kruse said if he knew what he was accused of, he’d be happy to apologize and not do it again. He did say he had a conversation with human resources a year and a half ago about respecting boundaries.

Gelser mentioned groping in one of her tweets. Kruse said he’s never groped Gelser, and that she never said anything to him about feeling he’d violated her boundaries.

“If somebody is stretching your comfort level, why wouldn’t you say something to them, rather than make a big political thing about it?” he asked.

He said he’s heard more about what he’s accused of from the newspapers than he has from the Senate, and what he’s read suggests this is more about boundary issues than anything of a sexual nature.

“I’m assuming at this point you cannot touch a woman on her shoulder, or you cannot whisper in her ear, or anything like that,” he said.

The Oregonian quoted Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick Monday saying she saw Kruse wrap his arms around Gelser at her desk on the Senate floor. She also said she had seen Kruse step inappropriately close to Burdick during a debate.

Burdick also told The Oregonian she recalled saying, “Get your hands off Sen. Gelser.”

Kruse said it’s his understanding that no formal complaint had been filed, that an investigation is ongoing, and that about nine people had been interviewed. If there’s no formal complaint, he said he doesn’t know if he’ll get due process.

He said Courtney, as Senate president, can remove senators from committees, but in his 20 years in the legislature, he doesn’t ever recall anyone being stripped of all their committees.

“I’m willing to do whatever’s necessary to respect people’s boundaries and try to make everybody OK again, but they aren’t even telling me exactly what it is at this point,” he said.

The Associated Press reported Courtney’s spokesman Robin Maxey as saying the senator knew his behavior needed to change.

“There are ongoing workplace issues which Senator Kruse has failed to resolve. As a result, the Senate President took the action Friday to remove Senator Kruse from his committees,” spokesman Robin Maxey said in an email to AP.

Courtney and Maxey did not respond to The News-Review’s requests for comment. Neither did Gelser.

Kruse serves Senate District 1, which covers Roseburg and South County, including Winston, Myrtle Creek and Canyonville. It also covers Curry County and rural portions of Coos, Jackson and Josephine Counties.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at 541-957-4213 or ccegavske@nrtoday.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4213 or by email at ccegavske@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(26) comments

just me

i am of a mind, guys, that if you touch a woman in any way, shape or form you are had

melrosereader

Maybe it's finally sinking in.

exdep425

***I see no one has asked this question about Gelser. If she is genuine about her claim of unwanted touching, then why did she not file a police report? It is a crime, ORS 166.065. She is a public politician and should know that is a crime. That makes her look less than reliable as a person and a poor politician. There are OSP Troopers assigned to the capital, so why did she not talk with them? Why did she wait to go public? Why did she go public to a certain point and then stop? Why has she made Kruse look guilty without giving dates, times and elaborate on the incident(s)? Too many negatives on her part to be considered 100% trustworthy and honest.

Mogie

Perhaps you missed this comment. "Buffalobill Oct 23, 2017 4:57pm
The Oregonian reported today that the Senator was admonished by the legislature's top attorney, Dexter Johnson, in the Spring of 2016 for behavior initially reported to Employee Services director Lore Christopher under the legislature's rules governing workplace harassment in March of that year."

InDWoods

So much for any due process. Shouldn't he get a chance to defend himself and question his accuser(s) before he is punished?

melrosereader

Read the story. he had plenty of warnings.

InDWoods

Get a dictionary. 'Due process' is not the same as 'warnings'.

melrosereader

Read Courtney's letter. Not all matters need to be litigated.

exdep425

***Oui. You think people are guilty whether any, or all evidence, or facts are missing. At least when I arrested people, I gathered lots of evidence, interviews, evaluated the facts and then made the arrest, some times not. Good thing you were not a police officer.

exdep425

***InD. Maybe Gelser has been watching tv and saw where other women were making less than honest accusations against men and decided to run with that idea. Public opinion will roast you to death whether there any facts or not to check. They do not care as long as they think it will ruin their target.

melrosereader

Deny, Attack, Reverse the order of Victim and Offender. DARVO. We're on to your type and it won't work anymore.

melrosereader

From the Oregonian article. "Burdick said Kruse's conduct "reached a point where it had to be corrected" when he did not heed warnings to keep his hands to himself after Gelser's complaint."

exdep425

***melrose. Why did Gelser not file a police report for a crime against her person? Would you have done so?

Buffalobill

Senator Gelser DID file a report. . . it was in March of last year (2016) the Oregonian reports. . . and the Legislature's top attorney, Dexter Johnson, did admonish Senator Kruse for the reported conduct.

exdep425

***A report to the state senate is not a police report. Two totally different things.

CannaKing

When you have a hammer as your only tool FOR SO LONG.... everything looks like a nail! SMH

#pullitOut Not EVERYONE goes to the police!

bbgurrl

I believe her too. As other commenters mentioned, he is and was rude at a Town Hall meeting in Roseburg in March 2016. He was particularly rude when one attendee brought up restraining orders. Very disheartening to have brave women come out and be blamed as the victim, or accused of trying to advance themselves somehow. We need to start respecting women and their word when they say "this happened to me," because no woman wants to be associated publicly with her abuser. Abuse is not just sexual, inappropriate touching and intimidation are both acts of power and aggression. Very embarrassing year for Douglas County elected official men.

S

Douglas County when will you tire of your front page embarrassments and seek change. The Status Quo is doing us more harm than good . . . I believe her.
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154935357532703&id=23450757702

Momos

Kruse's resignation is inevitable. He's powerless, shamed, and totally ineffective. And, worst of all, he'll never admit he did anything wrong. Toast.

Old Tobi

Touching someone without their consent is a violation of their integrity. We don't pet a dog without checking first with its owner, but serial gropers don't see that their passive-aggressive power fondling is bullying. People shouldn't have to wear signs like Service Dogs, saying "Working -- Please Don't Pet Me."

exdep425

***Tobi. Apparently you did not read my reply to your saying inappropriate touching was not illegal. Now you claim it violates their integrity. That is not illegal. You are missing the point here. It is illegal, by state statute. It used to be referred to as "Offensive Physical Harassment". Will you please read the ORS number, 166.065, I wrote for you? You are just saying things that make you sound like you cannot double check what you state.

Mogie

In the second paragraph a "side hug" is mentioned. What the heck is that?

CCegavske Staff
CCegavske

Arm around the shoulders, as opposed to a full, face to face, hug.

Mogie

Oh that is what Christians do so not to touch genitals.

Buffalobill

The Oregonian reported today that the Senator was admonished by the legislature's top attorney, Dexter Johnson, in the Spring of 2016 for behavior initially reported to Employee Services director Lore Christopher under the legislature's rules governing workplace harassment in March of that year. [thumbdown]

LCWilson3006

For anyone that has ever been around Sen. Jeff Kruse outside the formal public light, I would say "keep your hands to your self Mr. Kruse." The Senator is a very rude speaking individual that demands his desires over the needs of the public.

Sorry, I'm just speaking from real world experience with the Senator back in year 2005.

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