Sen. Bernie Sanders apologized for how women were treated working for his 2016 presidential campaign, saying he didn't know there were allegations of sexual assault. File Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he was not aware that campaign workers were sexually harassed during his 2016 run for president and apologized to "any woman who feels like she was not treated appropriately."
Sanders' apology comes after The New York Times reported that several women complained about sexual harassment, unequal pay and disrespect by campaign members. Their concerns were not addressed or taken seriously at the time, they said.
In an interview Wednesday with CNN, Sanders said he was busy running around the country and was unaware of the complaints.
"I am not going to sit here and tell you that we did everything right in terms of human resources, in terms of addressing the needs that I'm hearing from now, that women felt they were disrespected, that there was sexual harassment which was not dealt with as effectively as possible," Sanders said.
He added that his 2018 Senate campaign had new protocols in place for sexual harassment allegations that included mandatory training and an independent firm they could go to.
"Of course, if I run, we will do better next time," Sanders said, referring to a possible 2020 presidential run.
The campaign committee Friends of Bernie Sanders said there were actions taken during the 2016 campaign but didn't give any specifics.
"We will continue to examine these policies and processes," the group wrote in the statement. "And make any necessary changes, as we continue our work to build a world based on social, racial and economic justice."
The New York Times article tells the story of Giulianna Di Lauro, a Latino outreach strategist for Sanders in 2016. She said she drove with a campaign surrogate who commented on her "beautiful curly hair" and asked to touch it. She consented, thinking he'd just touch one strand but he went on to rub his hand through her hair in a "sexual way." He continued to grab, touch and "push my boundaries" all day.
"I just wanted to be done with it so badly," Di Lauro said.
She reported the encounter to a manager, who joked that she would have liked it if the guy was younger. Then he laughed.
In other cases, the women talk about makeshift living conditions where they had to sleep in rooms along with male co-workers whom they didn't know.