Sheldon Silver proposes changes to sex harassment policies

(Photo by Daniel Barry/Getty Images)
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has proposed changes to the assembly’s sexual harassment policies as he faces criticism for the way he handled allegations against former Assemblyman Vito Lopez. Credit: Daniel Barry/Getty Images

As Vito Lopez resigned from the state assembly amid a sexual harassment scandal Monday, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver proposed sweeping changes to sexual harassment policies amid mounting criticism of the way he’d handled the affair.

Silver announced plans to create an independent investigator to look into all sexual harassment complaints reported to the assembly, the New York Post reports.

Secret settlements — like the one Silver approved for two of Lopez’s accusers last year — would be banned, according to the proposed changes, and all sexual harassment complaints must be reported immediately.

The proposals come as women’s groups, government watchdog organizations and others have called for Silver’s resignation. According to a report by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics released last week, Silver’s staff failed to refer initial sexual harassment allegations against Lopez to an ethics committee.

A special prosecutor who cleared Lopez of criminal charges due to a lack of evidence said what he found in the investigation was “alarming,” and that the way the assembly’s leadership handled the allegations encouraged Lopez to continue with his inappropriate conduct.

Lopez resigned Monday morning after 28 years in the assembly.

Silver said on Monday, “I never gave any thought to resigning.”



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