14 sex-harassment payouts cost NY $1.2M
The disclosure comes amid ongoing investigations of Assemb. Vito Lopez on allegations he sexually harassed four female employees in his office. The state paid $103,000 to two of his former staffers in a confidential settlement, which is now the subject of a state ethics inquiry.
The attorney general's office released the federal settlements in response to a Freedom of Information request filed by Newsday.
Previously, the office released documents showing that since 2008, New York has paid $5.5 million in taxpayers' funds to settle 20 sexual-harassment lawsuits filed against the state in state courts.
All but two of the federal cases were settled for relatively small amounts -- less than $65,000.
However, one lawsuit that targeted the state Office of Children and Family Services was settled for $650,000 in 2008. The settlement provides scant details but notes the woman suffered physical injuries.
Also, a 2011 settlement involving the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs required a $250,000 payment. Stony Brook University Hospital settled a case for $7,500 in 2012. Also that year, there was a $25,000 settlement in a case filed against seven employees of Farmingdale State College. The college itself wasn't named in the settlement.
The Lopez payouts have sparked a civil inquiry by the state's ethics panel and a criminal probe by a special prosecutor. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) approved the settlements to the ex-staffers but afterward admitted he erred by not sending the matter to the Legislative Ethics Commission first.