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Ore. senator among ‘Silence Breakers’ honored as Time magazine’s Person of the Year

Sara Gesler (Courtesy: oregonlegislature.gov)

SALEM, Ore. (KATU/AP) –Time magazine named the “Silence Breakers” – or those who have shared their stories about sexual assault or harassment – as their Person of the Year.

Among those featured in the magazine’s cover story is Oregon Senator Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis), who this year spoke out about sexual harassment in the state capitol.

She initially spoke out in October as many women started sharing their experiences with sexual harassment and abuse through social media with the #MeToo movement.

On November 15, Sen. Gelser filed a formal complaint against Senator Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg), saying he groped her breasts several times, placed his hand on her thigh inappropriately and subjected her to unwanted kissing on the cheek. Gelser also wrote that at least 15 other women have reported problems with Kruse.

Kruse responded to the allegations, telling KPIC, "The people that know me know that this is a political witch hunt, quite honestly."

Her accusations prompted an investigation that led to Kruze being stripped of his committee assignments.

Gelser is quoted in the magazine article as saying “We can’t pick and choose based on whose political beliefs we believe in. And that means we have to be willing to speak out when it’s a member of our own party.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Time's 2015 Person of the Year, said through a spokesman that this year's winners should be thanked for "having the courage to break the silence on sexual assaults and for the worldwide discussion that they have launched."

Other finalists for Time’s 2017 Person of the Year were Chinese President Xi Jinping, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and President Donald Trump - himself accused of sexual misconduct by numerous women. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Trump, Person of the Year in 2016, tweeted recently that the magazine had told him he "probably" would be named again if he agreed to an interview and photo shoot. Trump added that he "took a pass." Time has disputed his account.


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