Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, told the body Monday night the investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Sen. Mark Manendo of Las Vegas has expanded well beyond the initial complaint that prompted the case.
Ford said the allegations, “span many years including multiple events this session.”
“He has developed a reputation of harassing and intimidating young women,” Ford said. Engaging in “conduct that makes them uncomfortable.”
Ford said he had hoped the investigation would have concluded by the end of this legislative session but that since it began, “more allegations have come forward.”
The independent investigator Ford commissioned to look into the accusations has reportedly interviewed more than 30 women including not only staff but lobbyists.
Ford said many of those women were hesitant to speak out of fear of retaliation.
“I want to assure those women they did then right thing,” Ford said. “We must not tolerate sexual abuse or harassment by the members of the Senate. No one deserves that.”
Ford said the investigation will continue after adjournment of this session and “will continue until it has been completed.”
“I am making this statement as an admonishment to the Senator from District 21 for using his position in a manner that makes people uncomfortable,” Ford said.
He said that includes changes making it easier to file a complaint, have that complaint investigated and resolved.
“At the conclusion of the investigation, I will determine whether any further action is necessary to protect the integrity of the Senate.”
Ford this year stripped Manendo of his chairmanship of the Transportation Committee after the investigation revealed more than a single accuser.
Manendo has been accused of sexual harassment in previous sessions including 2003 when he was stripped of his committee chairmanship after being accused of misconduct with an intern. Other than that, little was done about the complaints by the Legislature.
Manendo has hired legal counsel and declined to comment on the investigation.