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January 10, 2019

Bernie Sanders apologizes for staffer’s alleged 2016 sexual assault at Center City restaurant

The alleged incident occurred after the 2016 Democratic National Convention

Sexual Assaults Politicians
Bernie Sanders Yalonda M. James/The Commercial Appeal via USA TODAY NETWORK

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the I Am A Man march to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn.

Bernie Sanders publicly apologized Thursday to women who brought forth sexual assault allegations against his 2016 presidential campaign’s then-deputy national field director, which allegedly took place after the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia at a Center City restaurant.

Politico described in a report Wednesday that the alleged assault took place at a Mediterranean restaurant and hookah bar in Center City. The restaurant was not named.

Robert Becker, the deputy national field director, allegedly told a woman on Sanders’ campaign staff that he “always wanted to have sex with her,” and later grabbed the woman’s wrists and forcibly kissed her, per Politico.

In a statement to Politico, Becker denied the allegations:

“I categorically deny these allegations of improper and unprofessional conduct.” The alleged assault, he wrote, is “at odds with my recollection of a late evening filled with many hugs and kisses and tears and conversations about what’s next.”

On Thursday, Sanders — who has not yet made his plans for 2020 clear — issued a public apology from his Twitter page:

“To the women in that campaign who were harassed or mistreated I apologize,” Sanders wrote. “Our standards and safeguards were inadequate.”

Sanders’ principal campaign committee told Politico in a statement that Becker will not be part of any future campaigns.

Politico said it spoke with the woman and three other people who witnessed or were told about the events in its reporting.

The woman who was allegedly assaulted said she didn’t report the alleged incident because Sanders’ campaign was over.

But as Becker planned for 2020 in recent months, the woman told Politico Becker had reached out to her. She then reached out to Sanders’ 2016 campaign manager Jeff Weaver to explain her experience that night in Center City.


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