OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma state congresswoman who quit abruptly last week has been accused by an Oklahoma City lobbyist of inappropriately touching her at a New Year’s Eve party at her home.
Former first-term Democratic state Rep. Jose Cruz, 31, resigned his House seat last week, releasing a statement in which he apologized for “showing a poor judgment and acted inappropriately at a gathering”. He did not elaborate on the details of his actions.
Now Sarah Rivin, 33, Oklahoma director of government relations for the American Heart Association, has come forward with allegations that Cruz cornered her in her bathroom, made comments about her body, then allegedly put his hand on his leg. Cruz did not respond to messages left Wednesday seeking comment on the woman’s allegations.
“He walked in, closed the door behind him, blocked the door, said inappropriate things, then touched me inappropriately,” Rivin said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I made it clear that I was uncomfortable and he moved away.
“It was obviously surprising when someone you consider a friend, really, attacks you in your home.”
Rivin said she was shocked by what happened and broke down in tears when she told a friend about the incident. She then went with two of her friends to her bedroom, where she stayed for much of the night, while Cruz and his wife stayed at the party until shortly after midnight.
“I mostly felt panicked and wanted to hide rather than face this situation,” she said.
After Cruz left the party, Rivin said he sent her several text messages saying he was drunk, apologizing, and asking her not to tell anyone what 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 Cruz, confirmed the case was still under investigation. investigation. Once the investigation is complete, it will be forwarded to Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater’s office to consider whether charges are brought, Littlejohn said.
Under Oklahoma law, sexual abuse is the intentional touching of someone’s body in a “lewd and lascivious manner” without the person’s consent. It is a crime punishable by 10 years in prison.
The Associated Press does not generally identify victims of sexual assault, but Rivin agreed to the use of her full name.
“As you can imagine, showing up was really scary, especially with the legislative session approaching,” she said, her voice shaking with emotion. “I just want to do my job, and that’s been the hardest thing to deal with.”
Rivin said she also shared her account with Democratic House Leader Emily Virgin, who confirmed in a statement to the AP on Wednesday that she and caucus chair rep Cyndi Munson said to Cruz that they thought he should quit.
“We heard the victim directly and believed him,” said Virgin, D-Norman. “She has nothing to gain by coming forward and faces considerable personal and professional risk for simply having reported this behavior by someone in power. We respect his 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 investigators and prosecutors to find probable cause. a crime.
“It comes down to the victims … versus the person who committed the alleged incident,” said Dadio, who is now director of the Center for Advanced Policing at the University of New Haven. “I hate to say ‘he said, she said,’ because it’s so cliché, but that’s really what it’s all about.”