Report details Vito Lopez sexual harassment allegations
On the same day that a special investigator announced that State Assemblyman Vito Lopez will not face criminal charges over allegations that he sexually harassed female staffers, the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics released a 70-page report containing graphic details of the assemblyman’s alleged abused, and how he got away with it for so long.
Lopez forced his hands up one woman’s legs, the report revealed. He told the women to wear low-cut blouses, miniskirts and high heels. He tried to persuade some of the women to stay overnight with him in hotel rooms. And he forced one woman to rub his hand even as she cried because she told him she had been raped in college, the New York Times reported.
The report also detailed how the assembly’s leadership protected Lopez from public scrutiny amid the sexual harassment allegations. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Speaker’s staff members failed to investigate or refer the allegations to the assembly’s ethics committee, the Times reports.
Eight women were harassed by Lopez, according to the report. The employees feared that Lopez would use his power to ruin their careers if they complained.
The report was released shortly after Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan said Wednesday that Lopez would not be charged over sexual harassment allegations following a months-long investigation because there was not enough evidence to prove “a chargeable crime was committed within the confines of Kings County.”
Donovan said, however, that “what we found is certainly alarming.” He said the way in which assembly leaders handled a confidential settlement with women in a separate incident encouraged Lopez to continue with his inappropriate conduct.