The Associated Press via The Chicago Sun-Times
March 21, 2018
A former speaker of the Hawaii House of Representatives will resign by next week to resolve sexual harassment allegations brought by several women, the latest case of an elected official being forced from office over misconduct.
The Hawaii State Ethics Commission on Wednesday announced the settlement in its investigation of state Rep. Joseph Souki of Maui, a Democrat. The investigation included allegations Souki, 86, sexually harassed multiple women by subjecting them to unwanted kissing, touching and sexual language.
Sexual misconduct allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein in October have led women around the country to come forward with claims against powerful men in politics, entertainment, business and media.
Since 2017, at least 23 state lawmakers have resigned or been expelled from office amid sexual misconduct or harassment allegations. That includes the 17 who left office since reports about Weinstein’s misconduct.
The settlement calls for Souki to resign by March 30, issue a public apology, pay a $5,000 penalty and not seek office for two years.
According to the settlement, Souki admitted he “touched and kissed more than one woman in ways that were inappropriate and unwelcome. He admits that this physical contact exceeded the boundaries of the customary ‘aloha kiss.’”
He also admitted making “sexual comments, including comments on the physical appearance of more than one woman, that were inappropriate and unwanted.”
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