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Calif. Democratic Chair Eric Bauman Resigns Amid Accusations of Sexual Misconduct

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The chairman of the California Democratic Party has resigned amid an independent investigation into allegations he committed acts of sexual misconduct and sexual assault.

In a statement Thursday, Eric Bauman announced that he is stepping down as chair.

"I have made the realization that in order for those to whom I may have caused pain and who need to heal, for my own health, and in the best interest of the party that I love and to which I have dedicated myself for more than 25 years, it is in everyone's best interest for me to resign my position as chair of the California Democratic Party," he said in a statement.

Bauman initially took a leave of absence Monday following a report that the party had authorized an independent investigation into his behavior. On Wednesday, Bauman revealed that he had entered rehab for alcohol abuse.

Eric Bauman
FILE -- Chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party Eric Bauman (R) speaks onstage during the Yes on Prop 62 Coalition Announcement at Los Angeles Grand Park on July 14, 2016 in Los Angeles. (Phillip Faraone/Getty Images)

Bauman was elected chairman of the party in 2017, after a closely contested election against progressive activist Kimberly Ellis. A former nurse and organizer, he led the L.A. County Democrats for 17 years and also served as vice chairman for the statewide party for eight years.

Current Vice Chairman Daraka Larimore-Hall had last week begun initiating proceedings to have Bauman removed, according to the Sacramento Bee.

In a letter sent to the party's executive board, Larimore-Hall wrote that he had learned that Bauman had "sexually harassed, and in some cases sexually assaulted, individuals during Party functions," the Bee reports.

On Saturday, Bauman responded with a statement in which he acknowledged that an independent investigation was underway.

"I look forward to putting these allegations behind us and moving forward as unified Democrats," Bauman said in the statement.

"These allegations are very troubling and deserve a full and thorough investigation," Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom said in his own statement Sunday.

Larimore-Hall said in the letter that he learned of the allegations during a recent party executive board meeting a week ago. He said he had spoken to two of the alleged victims and that their stories "illustrate a clear and escalating pattern of Chairman Bauman"s horrific and dehumanizing behavior."

The exact details of the allegations were not disclosed in the letter.

State Democratic Party sources told the Los Angeles Times that the outside counsel hired to investigate the allegations is Debra Henshaw Vierra, an employment law attorney at the Sacramento law firm Churchwell White.

Bauman has been under investigation for at least one harassment complaint involving employees prior to the Nov. 6 election, sources familiar with the investigation told the newspaper.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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