Brooklyn Assemblyman and Democratic leader Vito Lopez, one of the most powerful politicians in the state, is being stripped of his power after an ethics panel found he had engaged in repeated instances of “both verbal and physical sexual abuse.”
The bombshell findings by the Assembly Committee on Ethics and Guidance were announced today by Speaker Sheldon Silver, a longtime political ally of Lopez.
In a press release, Silver said the committee had found “Lopez created a hostile workplace which included both verbal and sexual abuse and determined that his response was not credible.”
* Lopez placed his hand on the leg of one female staffer, who tried to remove it only to find that he “then put your hand between her upper thighs, putting your hand as far up between her legs as you could.”
* There were “multiple incidents of unwelcome physical contact” towards the woman.
* Lopez required another female staffer to take a trip with him to Atlantic City in July, where he attempted to kiss her. When she struggled to fend him off on the drive back, he again put his hand between her legs.
* Lopez required both women to write to him about “how much they loved their jobs and they cared about” him. Incredibly, he criticized the notes for not being effusive enough.
As a result, Silver said Lopez was being removed as chairman of the housing committee and would be banned from any other leadership positions.
Lopez’s staff was also being reduced and he was ordered to undergo “supplemental sexual harassment training.”
Lopez was further barred from employing any intern under the age of 21.
Lincoln Restler, a Democratic district leader who has been at war with Lopez for years, immediately demanded his resignation as the Brooklyn Democratic chief.
“I am calling on every responsible Brooklyn Democratic official to join me in this action,” said Restler.
Sources said that rumors have been circulating in Albany for months that Lopez was facing sexual harassment charges.
“You know Shelly (Silver) did this because he had no choice,” said one insider. “I think the girls were going to come forward.”
The insider said that Lopez had a reputation for hiring “very attractive young women with legs longer than mine.”
The source added: “There has been a revolving door of young women coming into his office and leaving under problematic circumstances.”
Source: The NY Post