AP

Oklahoma City woman accuses ex-lawmaker of sexual misconduct

Jan 26, 2022, 5:19 PM | Updated: 6:59 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma state lawmaker who resigned abruptly last week has been accused by an Oklahoma City lobbyist of touching her inappropriately during a New Year’s Eve party at her home.

Former first-term Democratic state Rep. Jose Cruz, 31, resigned from his House seat last week, issuing a statement in which he apologized for “exercising poor judgment and acting inappropriately during a gathering.” He didn’t elaborate on the details of his actions.

Now, 33-year-old Sarah Rivin, the government relations director in Oklahoma for the American Heart Association, has come forward with allegations that Cruz cornered her in her bathroom, made comments about her body and then ran his hand up her leg. Cruz did not respond to messages left Wednesday seeking comment on the woman’s allegations.

“He came in, closed the door behind him, blocked the door, said inappropriate things and then touched me inappropriately,” Rivin said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I made it clear I was uncomfortable and he stepped aside.

“It was obviously surprising when somebody you consider a friend, really, attacks you in your own home.”

Rivin said she was shocked about what had happened and began to cry when she recounted the incident to a friend. She then went with two of her friends to her bedroom, where she stayed for much of the night, while Cruz and his wife remained at the party until shortly after midnight.

“I mostly just felt panicked and wanted to hide versus confronting that situation,” she said.

After Cruz left the party, Rivin said he sent several text messages to her saying he was drunk, apologizing and asking her not to tell anyone what had happened. Rivin shared screenshots of the text messages with the AP.

Rivin filed a police report about the alleged assault on Sunday, and Oklahoma City Police Capt. Valerie Littlejohn, without identifying Rivin or Cruise, confirmed the matter remains under investigation. When the investigation is complete, it will be forwarded to Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater’s office to consider whether filing charges against Cruz, Littlejohn said.

Under Oklahoma law, sexual battery is the intentional touching of someone’s body in a “lewd and lascivious manner” without the person’s consent. It is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The Associated Press typically does not identify victims of sexual assault, but Rivin agreed to the use of her full name.

“As you can imagine, coming forward was really scary, especially with the legislative session coming up,” she said, her voice quivering with emotion. “I just want to do my job, and that’s what’s been hardest to grapple with.”

Rivin said she also shared her account with House Democratic Leader Emily Virgin, who confirmed in a statement to the AP on Wednesday that she and Caucus Chair Rep. Cyndi Munson told Cruz they believed he should resign.

“We heard directly from the victim, and we believed her,” said Virgin, D-Norman. “She has nothing to gain from coming forward and faces considerable personal and professional risk for simply speaking out about this behavior by someone in power. We respect her courage.”

Lisa Dadio, a former police lieutenant who investigated sex crimes for the New Haven, Connecticut, Police Department, said these types of cases are often difficult for both investigators and prosecutors to find probable cause that a crime occurred.

“It comes down to victims … versus the person who committed the alleged incident,” said Dadio, who is now the director of the Center for Advanced Policing at New Haven University. “I hate to say ‘he said, she said,’ because that’s so cliché, but that’s really what it comes down to.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

7 hours ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

8 hours ago

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

4 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

5 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

13 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Oklahoma City woman accuses ex-lawmaker of sexual misconduct