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As we noted last month, sexual abuse has been thriving in Hollywood, Congress, the media, and in the California legislature. Senate boss Kevin de Leon sought to hire an independent legal firm to investigate but the latest revelations come from a different source. According to an investigation by the Sacramento Bee, “the state paid more than $25 million in the last three fiscal years to settle sexual harassment claims against state agencies and public universities. Sexual harassment settlements cost California taxpayers about $21.3 million of that amount, while the two university systems say insurance plans covered their payouts of nearly $3.9 million during the same three-year period.”
According to the investigation, California is outpacing New York and Florida in the volume of sexual harassment claims and settlement costs. Those involve 24 California state agencies and 10 campuses in both university systems. The payouts ranged from a relatively meager $500 to a prison inmate to the $10 million the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation paid in 2016 to wards claiming abuse by a staff counselor. The highest single settlement was a cool $1.7 million to Tyann Sorrell of UC Berkeley School of Law for sexual harassment at the hands of former dean Sujit Choudhry. The state did not volunteer any of this information nor make it easy for anyone to find.
The Bee investigators had to piece together more than 40 California Public Records Act requests and copies of settlement agreements from the 38 state entities with 900 or more employees, excluding the judicial branch. The $25 million in payouts over the past three years, “almost certainly under-estimates the scope of California’s settlement costs.” The figure that California taxpayers should have paid out is zero. Dean Choudhry and his fellow abusers should have paid the settlements out of their own pockets. Until the state makes abusers take responsibility for their own actions, and comes clean with the public, nothing is going to change.