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Two women accuse California mayor of sexual harassment

Two women accuse California mayor of sexual harassment
© City of San Bernardino

Mayor John Valdivia of San Bernardino, Calif., denied two recent allegations of sexual harassment made by his former employees, who claim he deprecated and mistreated them.

Karen Cervantes, the mayor's former assistant, and Mirna Cisneros, a former customer service representative for the city of San Bernardino claim Valdivia harassed and mistreated them, and said they had no other choice but to resign last week, according to an NBC affiliate in Los Angeles.

"When I refused and didn't respond to his advances and inappropriate correspondence, he would mistreat me, yell at me and make comments insinuating my job would be in jeopardy if I didn't do what he wanted me to do," Cervantes said.

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Cervantes said the alleged harassment lasted over four months and eventually lead to her having "health issues," according to the report.

The complaints of the former staff also mention that Valdivia made illegal financial transactions that were allegedly ignored by a supervisor until a lawyer was hired.

Parts of the harassment included asking the women to perform sexual favors.

"[He would call] the office saying he was drunk and needing assistance making an appointment with Councilmember Henry Nickel [and] if need be to get it done, to perform a sexual favor on one of Nickel's staff members," Cisneros said.

Valdivia denied those claims in his statement.

"These allegations are false, politically driven, and interrupt representative democracy," the mayor said. "This is a personnel matter with an investigation underway, and as such, I will make no further comment until the completion of the investigation."

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Tristan Pelayes, an the attorney representing the former city employees, said that "to call it a 'politically motivated move' is a typical reaction by a public official when he has nothing truthful to say."

The former employees are planning to file a civil claim against the city and are in the process of filing a lawsuit.

Updated: 12:30 p.m.