Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on Monday addressed sexual harassment allegations lodged against Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, saying there “should be no other choice than a resignation” if the charges are true.
Gabryszak, D-Cheektowaga, Erie County, was accused last week of inappropriate conduct by three now-former staffers, who said he showed a consistently inappropriate pattern of behavior. His former communications director accused him of sending an inappropriate video to her and leaving escort service websites up on his cell phone and iPad.
He became the third Assembly Democrat in the last 1 1/2 years to be accused of sexual harassment, including now-former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, D-Brooklyn, who was fined $330,000 by the Legislative Ethics Commission for his conduct.
“I think the allegations are serious. There’s no question about it,” Silver, D-Manhattan, said Monday following a New York City news conference on the DREAM Act. “If the allegations are true, I think there should be no other choice than a resignation.”
Silver had faced criticism for his handling of the Lopez accusations, some of which were quietly settled with $103,000 in state funds months before it became public. Afterwards, Silver implemented new procedures for handling complaints, including the implementation of an independent counsel who reviews ethics complaints.
He immediately referred the Gabryszak allegations to the Assembly Ethics Commission upon hearing of them, Silver said. The allegations first surfaced in court papers filed last week, preserving the ex-staffers’ right to sue.
“Every member of the Legislature is sent by their districts to Albany,” Silver said. “There is no test given at the door or the border of Albany. Every legislator comes from a district that they’re elected to. I think what’s clear is we’ve put them on notice that this activity is not tolerable.”
“There are various sessions that are devoted to definitions of harassment and proper ethical behavior, and we’ll continue to do that. But just like everything else, there are bad apples all over and the question is how you deal with it. I think we have dealt in the fastest possible way, certainly with this case, and we’ll continue to do that in the future. The notice I think will be clear that the behavior of this type, if it is proven, will not be tolerated.”