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NM House panel schedules hearing on sex harassment claims

State Rep. Carl Trujillo

SANTA FE — A New Mexico House ethics panel has scheduled a December hearing to weigh sexual harassment allegations against state Rep. Carl Trujillo, who lost a heated primary election in June but has rejected calls to resign.

The scheduled Dec. 3 public hearing would be the first of its kind since top-ranking lawmakers adopted a revised anti-harassment policy earlier this year.

A lobbyist for an animal rights organization posted a public letter in May accusing Trujillo of propositioning her, touching her inappropriately and retaliating when she rejected his advances.

The alleged actions occurred in 2014, and Trujillo, a Democrat from Nambé, has described them as politically motivated lies.

However, an internal investigation conducted behind closed doors found “sufficient credible evidence” to move forward with a formal charge against Trujillo and start public hearings that could result in discipline.

Specifically, the internal investigation found probably cause that Trujillo had violated the Legislature’s anti-harassment policy, though it found no probable cause that Trujillo had retaliated against the lobbyist, Laura Bonar of Animal Protection Voters.

Under a scheduling order released this week, the two co-chairs of a House ethics subcommittee said the hearing will take place at the Roundhouse and will last for no more than two days.

The hearing will be quasi-judicial in nature, as both contract attorneys hired by the Legislature to conduct the investigation and Trujillo and his defense team will be allowed to interview potential witnesses and submit trial briefs.

The two co-chairs of the House ethics subcommittee are both female lawmakers — Rep. Wonda Johnson, D-Church Rock, and Rep. Gail Armstrong, R-Magdalena.

The subcommittee, after holding its hearings, could recommend disciplinary action against Trujillo to the full Legislative Ethics Committee. But it would be up to the full 70-member House to ultimately vote on reprimand, censure or expulsion from the body.

And that appears unlikely to happen, because the full Legislature isn’t scheduled to reconvene in Santa Fe until January 2019. Trujillo was defeated in the primary election by fellow Democrat Andrea Romero of Santa Fe.

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