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allegations

California Democratic Party chairman accused of sexual harassment, unwanted touching

Over the last decade, Eric Bauman, the chairman of the California Democratic Party, has routinely made crude sexual remarks, touched people without their consent, and acted physically intimidating, 10 party staffers and political activists told the Los Angeles Times.

Last week, Vice Chairman Daraka Larimore-Hall wrote a letter calling on Bauman to resign due to his "horrific and dehumanizing behavior," and he took a leave of absence. Bauman, a former nurse turned union organizer, is known for being brash, the people who spoke to the Times said, and his inappropriate behavior often took place during work hours. Eight current staffers said he made sexually explicit comments to both men and women, talked about their genitalia, and brought up sexual acts. Bauman, who is gay, also allegedly spoke about being sexually attracted to staffers.

One gay male party official told the Times Bauman asked him during a professional event about his sex life, and he witnessed him taunt staff members over their looks and sexual orientation. Grace Leekley, 21, a temporary staffer, said earlier this month Bauman asked her and digital director Kate Early, 21, if they were having an affair; when they said they weren't, he pushed the issue and said he would be fine with them having a sexual relationship as long as it didn't affect their work. Leekley told the Times she was "really embarrassed, almost ashamed, and uncomfortable."

In a statement, Bauman said he "deeply regrets" if his behavior "has caused pain to any 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." He added that he is "immediately" seeking "medical intervention to address serious, ongoing health issues and to begin treatment for what I now realize is an issue with alcohol." Read more about the allegations against Bauman at the Los Angeles Times.