California Senate hires investigator for sex misconduct complaints

SACRAMENTO, CA - JANUARY 5: An exterior of the state capitol is shown on January 5, 2006 in Sacramento, California. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered his state of the state address in the Assembly Chambers of the state capitol today. In his speech, Schwarzenegger admitted to making mistakes with the special election and vowed to work with members of the Assembly and Senate and try to move California ahead in the year to come. (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The California Senate is changing its process for investigating sexual misconduct complaints following new allegations against a sitting Democratic senator.

The Senate announced Sunday night it will hire an independent legal team to investigate allegations of sexual harassment and abuse and recommend discipline. Senate leaders say findings of investigations will be made public at the discretion of victims and whistleblowers.

The Senate Rules Committee, made up of five lawmakers, and the human resources department that works under its supervision currently handles harassment complaints. Details of complaints and discipline are not made public.

The changes come after allegations that Sen. Tony Mendoza sexually harassed at least two women who formerly worked in his office. The allegations against him will be reviewed by the new outside legal team. Mendoza denies behaving inappropriately.

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