State Sen. Bob Hertzberg, a Los Angeles Democrat, earned the nicknames “Hugsberg,” and “Huggy Bear" because he enjoys affectionately hugging both male and female colleagues.
But not for long.
Following an investigation, the California Senate Rules Committee reprimanded Hertzberg this week and told him to stop hugging people. Specifically, he can no longer initiate hugs, KNBC-TV reported.
What did investigators say?
An investigation released Thursday found that Hertzberg’s hugs are not intended as sexual and are generally welcome, according to the report.
"I understand that I cannot control how a hug is received, and that not everyone has the ability to speak up about unwelcome behavior," Hertzberg said in a statement. "It is my responsibility to be mindful of this, and to respect the Rules Committee's request to not initiate hugs."
Hertzberg was investigated for four complaints dating back to 2010 involving three female lawmakers and a male sergeant at arms, KNBC reported.
According to the investigation, Hertzberg allegedly made three lawmakers uncomfortable for the ways he hugged them. Another person complained that Hertzberg made him uncomfortable by “dancing briefly with his backside” against him, according to the report.
Who accused him?
The accusers have remained anonymous. One person, Republican Assemblywoman Linda Halderman, previously went on record by saying Hertzberg allegedly gave her prolonged hugs between 2010 to 2012, and at one point thrust into her after she told him to stop.
Halderman reportedly declined to speak with the outside law firm hired by the state Senate to investigate the senator. The investigation concluded that while Hertzberg made her uncomfortable, there was no evidence to show he continued to hug her after she asked him to stop.
Investigators concluded that Hertzberg stopped hugging the second accuser in 2015, after she asked him to stop. Hertzberg was unaware that a third assemblywoman was offended by his hugs.
Hertzberg had clues that in the past that he hugs were making people uncomfortable. In 2015, a staff member complained that he held her close and began dancing with her.
Although investigators blamed Hertzberg for not taking past complaints seriously, they also criticized the Senate for not briefing him on the complaints against him. Had Hertzberg known earlier, he may have had the opportunity to correct his behavior, the investigation concluded.
In California, three lawmakers have resigned over allegations of sexual misconduct. One stepped down after being threatened with expulsion.