ALBANY -- Nearly half the sexual-harassment cases settled by the state since 2008 involved state prisons, according to documents released Friday.
The state attorney general's office released five more settlements in response to a Freedom of Information Law request. The state paid $248,000 to end those cases.
The records, combined with cases disclosed earlier this week, show the state has paid $5.5 million in taxpayers' funds to settle 20 sexual-harassment lawsuits during the past five years.
The records were released in the wake of a controversial $135,000 settlement of sexual-harassment claims against Assemb. Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn).
Lopez was censured last month after two female former staffers accused him of trying to force contact. Subsequently, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) disclosed that two other women had previously made similar charges and that he approved a confidential payment -- $103,000 of it taxpayers' money -- to end the case. Silver since has said he mishandled the case and should have sent it to an ethics committee hearing.
The tumult has sparked a civil inquiry by the state's ethics panel, and a criminal probe by a special prosecutor.
Nine of the sexual-harassment cases disclosed this week involved claims against the state Department of Corrections. The highest-paying case -- $1.8 million -- involved a cook at a Chautauqua County facility who said women had been barred from advancing to a head cook job.
Another lawsuit was filed by an inmate who collected $300,000 for an alleged improper frisk by a prison guard.