Speaker Sheldon Silver: Sex Harassment Case Mishandled, Not Covered-Up — CBS New York


Earlier today I was interviewed by CBS New York reporter Tony Aiello about the Vito Lopez sex harassment scandal swirling around Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. When the video becomes available, I’ll post it.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly says he did not cover up a sex harassment case. After a week of silence, Sheldon Silver spoke out Tuesday. This as a state ethics watchdog appears to be starting up an investigation.

On Tuesday up in Albany there was a rare special meeting of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, known as “JCOPE.” Cameras were kicked out as the ethics panel went into executive session. It’s widely assumed JCOPE is investigating alleged sex harassment by Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez, and, perhaps, Speaker Silver’s approval of a six-figure secret payout to Lopez’s accusers, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported.

At the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Silver told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer the case was mishandled, not covered-up.

“[It’s] a mistake that won’t happen again. Clearly it was wrong of us to do what we did and go along with the confidentiality,” Speaker Silver said.

Former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin said he doesn’t believe Silver would try to protect Lopez, who Benjamin sees as a throwback to a different era of how men treated women.

“I think Shelly’s weathered the storm. I don’t believe he’s done anything illegal or unethical,” Benjamin said. “It’s an outdated culture.  It was wrong then and it’s wrong now.”

As for Silver, some recall an earlier scandal, when a top silver aide, Michael Boxley, sexually assaulted a young woman. The victim collected $500,000 after settling a lawsuit that claimed Silver mishandled an earlier complaint about Boxley, and tolerated a culture of sex harassment.

“It was shocking and incredibly disappointing to be here more than a decade later and think, my goodness, did he not learn anything from that incident in his own office?” said Sonia Ossorio, Executive Director of the National Organization of Women-NYC.

As JCOPE opens an investigation, Silver is promising full cooperation.

Lawmaker support for Silver has been strong, but on Tuesday a Democrat running for an upstate Assembly seat said he does not believe silver should be re-elected as speaker.

Speaker Sheldon Silver: Sex Harassment Case Mishandled, Not Covered-Up « CBS New York.


UPDATE: Video available http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/09/04/speaker-silver-sex-harassment-case-mishandled-not-covered-up/

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, FoxNews.com LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email FOMB08@GMAIL.COM.
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4 Responses to Speaker Sheldon Silver: Sex Harassment Case Mishandled, Not Covered-Up — CBS New York

  1. Geoffrey L. Garfield says:

    Michael. it seems that neither you nor Shelly has learned the lesson of sexual harassment and how to deal with it in a public institution. Why you give him a bye is the big question. Anyone else who had this occur TWICE during their tenure would be hounded out of office with you passing the matches to light the torch. Please explain your apparent leniency as it pertains to Shelly, your fans want to know.


    • I believe in Shelly’s commitment to doing the thing for women and all New Yorkers. I haven’t given Shelly a pass. I’ve stated repeatedly that he erred and should have referred the case directly to the ethics panel. In 2004, Shelly had appointed me to the committee that revised rules regarding Member fraternization with interns and staff. I took that assignment seriously because too many Members were too familiar with their interns.

      For eight years, I sat in sexual harassment awareness and ethics training. Capitol and district staff took the same training and were advised on how to report misconduct.

      Shelly can’t make Members and staff to do the right thing. I don’t think I’m giving Shelly a pass. I am rightly putting the onus on the transgressors. Shelly is an easy target for those who hold THE LEADER responsible for everything as though he were the puppetmaster. I have hold a different perspective.


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