New York State Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez, a long time leader in the Democratic party, is accused of sexual harassment, according to the New York Times. Lopez was stripped of his committee chair position when the allegations of two females who worked in his office this summer surfaced.
Several leaders in the Democrat party called for Lopez to resign following the allegations. Assembly leader Sheldon Silver, criticized in the past for mishandling sexual misconduct claims against legislators, condemned the alleged actions of Lopez.
“I hereby censure and admonish you on behalf of the New York State Assembly and its Member, and declare that your conduct with respect to this matter violates the Assembly’s Sexual Harassment/Retaliation Policy and is inconsistent with the standards of conduct to which Members of the Assembly should be held,” wrote Silver.
While it may not be fair to jump to conclusions until these allegations are vetted and a thorough investigation is complete, the fact that Lopez’s long-time colleagues are not rushing to his defense is very telling.
“There were multiple incidents of unwelcome physical conduct toward one complainant, wherein you put your hand on her leg, she removed your hand, and then you put your hand between her upper thighs, putting your hand as far up between her legs as you could go,” Silver wrote to Lopez. “There was pervasive unwelcome verbal conduct by you toward both complainants from early June 2012 until the time they made complaints of sexual harassment in mid-July 2012, including repeated comments about their physical appearance, their bodies, their attire, and their private relationships.”
Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys