Assemb. Inez Barron has become the first female Democrat to call for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to resign in the wake of his handling of a sexual harassment scandal.
Barron (D-Brooklyn), in a press release distributed Tuesday, said Silver’s actions amounted to an “unacceptable attempt to cover up the allegations of sexual harassment brought by two female employees” against former Assemb. Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn).
Barron said Silver “jeopardized the safety of and respect for female employees.” She and Assemb. Michael P. Kearns (D-Buffalo) are the only two Democrats to say Silver should step down, joining a number of Republicans. So far, Democrats said there are no indications the scandal will cost Silver his post.
Silver has come under fire for his handling of sexual harassment allegations against Lopez. Silver approved a $103,000 confidential settlement in taxpayers’ money to end claims by two former staffers instead of sending the case to an ethics committee for investigation. He has since admitted he made a mistake.
Separate criminal and civil investigations released earlier this month outlined how Lopez, once one of the Assembly’s most powerful members, routinely groped and harassed young female staffers.
A criminal prosecutor said although Lopez’ behavior was “alarming,” no “chargeable crime” occurred. But the state ethics commission concluded that Lopez’ conduct violated the New York Public Officers Law. That prompted Silver to announce he would commence procedures to banish Lopez from the chamber – triggering Lopez’ resignation on May 18.