Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a Buffalo-area assemblyman should resign if sexual harassment allegations lodged against him are true, telling reporters that the state will “not tolerate this behavior.”
Taking questions after a toy and coat drive in Buffalo this morning, Cuomo said the allegations against Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, D-Cheektowaga, Erie County, are “startling” and “graphic.”
“If the allegations are true, I don’t believe a person who did what those allegations suggest has a place in public service,” Cuomo said.
Three now-former Gabryszak staffers filed court papers Thursday, preserving their right to sue the state for what they said is a history of repeated sexual harassment by the Cheektowaga Democrat. Gabryszak, who hasn’t commented on the allegations, is accused of making incessant, inappropriate remarks, with his former communications director saying she saw photos of naked women and a history of visiting female escort websites on Gabryszak’s iPad.
Cuomo said he’s confident the allegations will be fully investigated. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, referred the complaint to the Assembly Ethics Committee on Friday.
“In life, people do stupid things,” Cuomo said. “Sexual harassment is all too common in occupations all across the board. It is a societal problem. I like to believe that we hold elected officials to a higher standard. We will not tolerate this behavior if true.”
At one point during Cuomo’s Q-and-A session, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, offered her take. When asked whether there’s a culture in Albany that’s degrading to women, she said: “I think there is a culture in America that’s degrading to women.”
“Mr. Gabryszak has an opportunity to speak,” she said. “He knows whether this is true or not. If it is, he should immediately resign.”