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California Lawmaker Reprimanded For Giving Woman A ‘Noogie' During A Photo

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, left, listens as lawmakers debate a climate change bill, Monday, July 17, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Another member of the California Legislature has received a letter of reprimand for inappropriate workplace conduct — this time for “noogies.”

An outside investigation found that Republican state Sen. John Moorlach put a woman into a headlock and gave her a noogie at a Republican caucus reception.

The woman had asked for a photo, and the noogie was given during the picture. The senator did not know the woman personally.

Moorlach is quoted in the letter as saying he does that “quite a bit” for “fun.”

According to the investigation report:

While Moorlach did not have any sexual intent or other ill-intent toward Complainant, Complainant credibly described the impact Moorlach’s conduct had on her. She did not know Moorlach and had no prior interactions with him. She considered Moorlach’s decision to suddenly grab her at a professional event to be “assault.” Her reaction to the encounter was not unreasonable.

While we find that the conduct occurred, we note that Moorlach did not intend to make Complainant uncomfortable. We found evidence that Moorlach has given other individuals “noogies,” which he acknowledged.

The letter also states that Moorlach has previously been warned for inappropriate touching, specifically poking an employee in the stomach.

In a statement, Moorlach apologized. “I will discontinue this innocent and gregarious behavior in the future,” he wrote.

Moorlach’s reprimand is the latest report of unwanted touching or other misconduct against California lawmakers in the wake of the Me Too movement.

Democratic state Sen. Bob Hertzberg has apologized for pulling people into unwanted hugs. Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia both received letters of reprimand for sexual talk.

Assemblymembers Raul Bocanegra and Matt Dababneh, and Senator Tony resigned after sexual misconduct allegations, while both Republican Assemblyman Devon Mathis and Garcia have been cited for using sexually charged language.

The woman reported the “noogie” incident through the Legislature’s new harassment hotline.

Ben Bradford

Former State Government Reporter

As the State Government Reporter, Ben covered California politics, policy and the interaction between the two. He previously reported on local and state politics, business, energy, and environment for WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Read Full Bio 

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