The story is becoming familiar. A powerful man is accused of sexually harassing a young woman in a workplace setting.
He denies it with such ferocity that more women come forward with their own similar stories to support the victim and show that she is likely telling the truth.
In Sacramento, state Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, is now at the center of controversy.
The Sacramento Bee reported last week that in August, Mendoza invited a young woman who was working in his Capitol office in a fellowship program to come to his house — offering to review her resume — after a party at a downtown nightclub. Mendoza wouldn’t say whether he invited the 23-year-old to his home, but he responded “absolutely not” when asked if he suggested she stay in his room overnight before a morning fundraiser the next day.
That was enough to make Jennifer Kwart tell the Bee about her experience with Mendoza when she was a 19-year-old intern in the then-assemblyman’s Norwalk office in 2008. “I had no intention of telling this story,” Kwart told the Bee. “My reason for this is that he had flatly denied what happened to this girl and it felt similar to me.”
Kwart said aides to Mendoza arranged for her to attend the Democratic Party’s state convention, and that Mendoza personally picked her up at the San Jose airport and drove her to a hotel, where he poured drinks from the mini-bar in his room because she was too young to drink legally at the bar.
Kwart told the Bee Mendoza asked personal questions about ex-boyfriends and her taste in men, and told her he didn’t want to spend too much time at the convention in the evening because “then we won’t have time for anything else.”
In an account corroborated by the Bee, Kwart secretly called her mother from a restaurant where Mendoza had taken her for dinner for two and made arrangements for a flight home the next day, concerned that the situation would “extend to an actual physical advance” during the convention…