NY Dem. Assemblyman to Resign After Sexual Harassment Allegations
On Saturday, Vito Lopez, a New York state lawmaker accused of repeatedly molesting his female aides and making sexual comments about a 14-year old intern, announced he will resign from office on Monday. The announcement came one day after those allegations came to light in a report.
“I hereby resign the public office of Member of Assembly from the 53rd Assembly District, Kings County, effective 9 A.M. Monday, May 20, 2013,” his letter read.
The New York Times reported that Lopez was facing expulsion if he did not resign.
Lopez, a Democrat who ran the party in Brooklyn and is in the state assembly, had previously said he would resign at the end of the legislative session in June so he could run for New York City Council in November.
The 71-year-old Democrat said he has "made no secret that I intend to run for New York City Council in November, which requires me to resign my current term."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, told the New York Post that Lopez should "not spend another day in office" and "must be expelled."
On Friday, a report indicated Lopez had "bombarded eight female aides with orders to massage him, wear skimpy clothing and spend the night in hotels with him - but State Assembly officials let him get away with it" and did not further their investigations into claims that had been made against Lopez.
He reportedly cajoled one woman into believing he was dying and forced another female aide to "massage his hand while he was driving in Atlantic City - even though she told him she had been raped, was crying and said she felt uncomfortable."
He has also been "accused of saying he found a 14-year-old intern so 'sexy' that he wished he lived in a state where it was legal to sleep with underage girls."
Two women "secretly recorded their encounters with the Assemblyman, who faced a criminal probe into his actions." They said they "feared that their careers would be ruined by Lopez if they spoke up" because "those who gave in were handed raises and promotions, while those who resisted faced bullying."
Lopez reportedly will not face charges in Brooklyn, "though it is not known if he may face criminal investigations in other places where offenses are said to have taken place."
The two women reportedly "received a $103,000 taxpayer settlement" and are "bound by a secrecy clause."
The women--Victoria Burhans and Chloe Rivera--said that "Albany’s culture is one in which young women are often mistreated and bad behavior by powerful men is condoned and covered up... We hope that the Commission’s findings will lead to much needed reform."
Lopez denied the accusations, calling them "salacious claims" in a statement.