Lobbyist says former Oklahoma lawmaker sexually assaulted her at New Year’s party

·3 min read

An Oklahoma City woman says former state lawmaker Jose Cruz cornered her in a bathroom and sexually assaulted her while at a party last month before pleading with her not to tell anyone.

Sarah Rivin, a lobbyist, has accused Rep. Jose Cruz of sexual assault during a New Year's Eve party. Cruz resigned last Friday after saying he acted "inappropriately" on New Year's Eve.
Sarah Rivin, a lobbyist, has accused Rep. Jose Cruz of sexual assault during a New Year's Eve party. Cruz resigned last Friday after saying he acted "inappropriately" on New Year's Eve.

Sarah Rivin, who works as the state director of government relations for the American Heart Association, told The Oklahoman she hosted a New Year’s party at her Oklahoma City apartment on Dec. 31, which Cruz and his wife attended as invited guests. At around 10 p.m., Rivin went into the bathroom to fix her lipstick before taking a photo with some friends when Cruz followed her in and shut the door behind him, Rivin told The Oklahoman.

'I made it clear I wanted it to stop'

Cruz complimented Rivin’s legs and said, “I just can’t stop watching you,” Rivin recalled. Cruz then ran his hand up her leg and blocked Rivin from leaving the bathroom before eventually moving out of the way.

“I know I made it clear I wanted it to stop,” Rivin, 33, said. “He said some inappropriate things and he touched me inappropriately. I know I made it clear I was uncomfortable.”

Rivin said she “was blocked in” the bathroom.

“I wanted to get out of that bathroom as fast as I could,” Rivin said.

The Oklahoman typically does not name victims of sexual assault, but Rivin gave permission to use her name for this story.

Jose Cruz resigned from Oklahoma House last week

Cruz, 31, resigned as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives last week without providing any details, except to say, “I started 2022 by exercising poor judgment and acting inappropriately,” during a New Year’s Eve party, according to a statement he released last week.


Cruz, a Democrat who represented south Oklahoma City, said “my actions made someone else uncomfortable. I’m upset with myself and embarrassed.”

Cruz resigned on Friday.

Rivin filed a report with Oklahoma City police Sunday.

State laws: Majority of states’ treat sexual assault perpetrators differently if victims drank

Cruz did not respond to a phone message, text message, Twitter direct message or email seeking comment for this story.

Cruz and his wife left the party at around 12:15 a.m., Rivin said, and he began texting her about 15 minutes later.

“Please don’t tell anyone. I’m so sorry,” Cruz texted, according to screenshots Rivin shared with The Oklahoman.

Sarah Rivin upset with Jose Cruz's statement

Rivin said she considered Cruz a friend and had never before observed him acting inappropriately.

"Since I started telling people that this happened to me, other women have told me this happened to them with Representative Cruz," Rivin told The Oklahoman. "People need to understand that this was not an isolated incident."

Rivin said she was glad to see Cruz resign his state House position but was upset with his statement.

“Representative Cruz tried to act like this was an isolated incident, he claims to be a champion for women. As someone who has been assaulted by him, I don’t think that is accurate,” Rivin told The Oklahoman. “That statement does not reflect the severity of what happened.”

Rivin told police "two other women have made statements that similar incidents with (Cruz) had occurred to them in the past," according to the police report.

On Monday, Rep. Emily Virgin, the leader of the House Democratic caucus, said she first learned about the assault from Rivin on Jan. 13. Four days later, Virgin recommended to Cruz that he resign, according to a statement.

“Party affiliation aside, the type of behavior Rep. Cruz engaged in is not acceptable for anyone, particularly an elected official in a position of power,” Virgin, D-Norman, said in a statement. “His position alone could have prevented this victim from coming forward in fear of facing retaliation. We believe it is past time to have a serious conversation at the Capitol about the way legislators conduct themselves.”

This story is provided in part through a grant by the Kirkpatrick Foundation. To support work like this, please consider purchasing a digital subscription today at https://cm.oklahoman.com/specialoffer/.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Sarah Rivin says ex-Oklahoma Rep. Jose Cruz sexually assaulted her

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting