John Frith, who worked for years as a spokesman for California government agencies and a California congressman before becoming a consultant, says he was always careful to keep even an innocuous inquiry about someone’s weekend plans to himself — particularly if he was talking to a woman he supervised.

Looking back, he says, he believes his most egregious transgression was ordering a female intern to fetch him a cup of coffee. He says he wouldn’t do it now.

“She glared at me like I was just the worst person in the world,” he recalls. “I would like to apologize to her now, but after these many, many years I can’t remember her name.”