Scandal-plagued former Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez died on Monday night at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center at age 74.
A longtime player in the Democratic Party and New York politics, Lopez resigned in 2013 amid allegations of sexual harassment of female staff members, which included groping and other unwanted sexual advances, the New York Times reported, adding that two of Lopez’s former aides, Victoria Burhans and Chloe Rivera, recently settled lawsuits accusing Lopez of making sexual advances and leering comments about their looks and attire.
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A special prosecutor and the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics once reported allegations that Lopez forced his hand up a woman’s leg, tried to coerce women to share hotel rooms with him, asked women to touch tumors on his neck and required them to write flirtatious memos that he tried to use to discredit them, CBS New York stated, adding that Lopez denied the accusations and resigned rather than face expulsion.
Lopez’s legal problems cast shade on other prominent Democrats, including the former speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, who authorized secret payments to other women who had accused Lopez of harassment, the Times stated, adding that Silver, who is now on trial facing federal corruption charges, had neglected to pass along those complaints to a legislative ethics committee.
Longtime Lopez attorney Gerald B. Lefcourt stated Lopez had invited some friends to his house on Monday night before being taken to the hospital, the Times reported, adding that Lefcourt said, “Everybody thought that it was some kind of ploy. … But it was very serious.”