UPDATE NO. 4, OCT. 18, 6:01 P.M.: More forceful than the Democratic Party of Orange County and 39th Congressional District candidate Phil Janowicz on his campaign manager Erik Taylor turning up in a #MeToo testimonial from an alleged sexual harassment victim is another Democrat seeking the 39th Congressional District seat held by Rep. Ed Royce (R-Brea).
“Mr. Thorburn believes there must be a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment of any kind,” says Jessica Perez, an Andy Thorburn for Congress spokeswoman. “Mr. Thorburn believes sexual harassment should be cause for immediate dismissal from any business, political campaign or organization.”
UPDATE NO. 3, OCT. 18, 3:38 P.M.: Asked for reaction to his campaign manager Erik Taylor being outed for alleged sexual harassment while executive director of the Democratic Party of Orange County, 39th Congressional District candidate Phil Janowicz was brief.
So brief that the challenger for the seat held by veteran Orange County lawmaker Rep. Ed Royce (R-Brea) did not mention Taylor by name.
“Whenever there are allegations of sexual harassment, they must be taken very, very seriously,” Janowicz tells the Weekly. I stand with my fellow OC Democrats in condemning inappropriate actions in the workplace and with them pledge to protect all of our campaign workers, interns, and volunteers. There must be a zero tolerance for any assault or harassment. Period.”
It’s worth noting the DPOC statement below also does not mention Taylor by name.
UPDATE NO. 2, OCT. 18, 1:09 P.M.: The Democratic Party of Orange County says in a statement that it takes allegations of sexual assault and harassment seriously, a stand that presumably applies to past and current DPOC officials.
The allegations are being taken so seriously that new reforms are being rolled out to protect victims and punish perpretrators—up to reporting crimes to local law enforcement, according to party leaders.
“There is no place for egregious abuse of power by some as we build the party’s infrastructure for the future,” says Chairwoman Fran Sdao in the release.
“The Democratic Party of Orange County must be inclusive, compassionate, and fully committed to protecting the basic civil rights of every individual. This is the strength of our party’s values and we must do everything possible to ensure that each person is treated with respect, especially the young women and men who are beginning their political careers as our interns and volunteers.”
The party lays out reforms that include sensitivity training, a code of conduct, investigations of misconduct and, when warranted, reports of suspected crimes to law enforcement.
The full DPOC statement follows:
The Democratic Party of Orange County takes accusations of sexual assault and harassment seriously. We condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms. We fully support the rights of all individuals to work in a safe environment and pledge to take measures to protect our interns, volunteers, Central Committee members and staff from intimidation and threats to their safety and dignity.
“I call on every politically engaged person to stand up against all forms of sexual harassment and to speak up for victims. There is no place for egregious abuse of power by some as we build the Party’s infrastructure for the future,” says Chair Fran Sdao. “The Democratic Party of Orange County must be inclusive, compassionate, and fully committed to protecting the basic civil rights of every individual. This is the strength of our Party’s values and we must do everything possible to ensure that each person is treated with respect, especially the young women and men who are beginning their political careers as our interns and volunteers.”
The Party commits to take the following steps:
We will offer training for members and volunteers and invite allied organizations including all campaign organizations to join us and to support empowerment of victims.
We will reintroduce a code of conduct that will apply to all members of the Central Committee, staff and volunteers working on behalf of the Party.
We will not tolerate inappropriate behavior and, once informed, will take immediate action to investigate accusations and come to an appropriate resolution which may include criminal charges.
We will not be silent and will stand up in support of victims of sexual assault and harassment as well as any harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity, race, color, national origin or religion.
UPDATE NO. 1, OCT. 18, 12:19 P.M.: Two powerful Democratic Party men who alleged, unnamed victims say sexually harassed them are Erik Taylor, the former executive director of the DPOC, and Julio Perez, the executive director of Orange County Labor Federation, confirms Danielle Serbin, the Orange County Young Democrats chairwoman.
As part of the #MeToo campaign, the following was posted by a woman on Facebook:
Taylor has gone on to work on the campaign for Democrat Phil Janowicz, an education consultant and former Cal State Fullerton chemistry professor, who is seeking the 39th congressional district seat currently occupied by Rep. Ed Royce (R-Brea).
Janowicz tweeted the following on Monday:
However, like the Democratic Party of Orange County and the Orange County Labor Federation, Janowicz has not gotten back to the Weekly. Specifically, we are seeking reactions to the allegations against the named individuals. This post will be updated again if anyone does.
ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 18, 8:54 A.M.: The chairwoman of the Orange County Young Democrats is standing up for female members who say they have been sexually harassed by “men in power at the Democratic Party of Orange County and/or the Orange County Labor Federation.”
Danielle Serbin, who provided a copy of her statement to the Weekly before it was posted on the OCYD Facebook page this morning, says she felt compelled to act after several young women “bravely stepped up to alert the public about their experiences being sexually harassed and abused by men in power in Orange County Democratic and allied organizations.”
“We cannot claim to be the party of women’s rights yet condone such outrageous behavior from our leaders,” Serbin writes. “We cannot call out President Trump as a sexual harasser who ‘grabs ‘em by the pussy,’ yet stand idly by while our leaders engage in the same behavior. We are better than this.”
Her fellow members went public as part of the Facebook #MeToo campaign that sprang up amid the mounting rape and sexual harassment allegations directed at Harvey Weinstein, the powerful Hollywood movie mogul and generous supporters of the Democratic Party.
Serbin, who is an attorney, was asked by the Weekly for the names of alleged harassers in Orange County. “The victims didn’t feel comfortable publicly doing so,” she replied.
Here is her complete statement:
OC Young Democrats: Statement Concerning Sexual Harassment Committed By Local Democratic Leaders
Orange County — October 17, 2017 — In response to individuals speaking out about their experiences being sexually harassed and abused by local political leaders, Orange County Young Democrats Chair Danielle Serbin issued the following statement:
As part of the #metoo campaign on Facebook, several young women have bravely stepped up to alert the public about their experiences being sexually harassed and abused by men in power in Orange County Democratic and allied organizations. Specifically, women are speaking out about men in power at the Democratic Party of Orange County and/or the Orange County Labor Federation who have tried to undress young women in the workplace, sent young women pornographic images and memes, and joked about porn with young interns.
We cannot claim to be the party of women’s rights yet condone such outrageous behavior from our leaders. We cannot call out President Trump as a sexual harasser who “grabs ‘em by the pussy,” yet stand idly by while our leaders engage in the same behavior. We are better than this.
Enough is enough. It is time to call out the harassers, name them and shame them, and remove them from positions of power in our community.
To the victims of sexual assault: we believe you. We are here for you. Please tell your story—either anonymously or publicly. We will work with allies to shield you from retaliation. We understand that you did not speak up in the past out of fear, because these influential men could impact your future professional goals and dreams. There is no doubt that the brave stories coming from the #metoo campaign are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sexual harassment in OC politics. It is time to expose all harassers in local positions of power.
To the organizations where sexual harassment has occurred: do better. Investigate the accusations. Fire the harassers. Clean house and get rid of a culture that condones and encourages harassment in the workplace. I acknowledge that Orange County Young Democrats itself has, in the past, had leaders who were involved in such harassing behavior, and our organization is taking steps to put systems in place to make sure it never happens again. I call upon other organizations to follow suit.
The Weekly will update this post with reactions from the Democratic Party of Orange County and the Orange County Labor Federation.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.