Embattled Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak announced Sunday that he will resign from the state Assembly amid allegations of sexual harassment from seven of his current and former staff members.
In a news conference in his attorney’s office, Gabryszak, D-Cheektowaga, Erie County, said he has decided to “retire from the New York State Assembly.” By Sunday afternoon, Gabryszak’s information had been wiped from the Assembly’s website.
“My decision today is based upon the impact that this has had on my family and my concern for the important work of the Assembly,” Gabryszak said at the news conference, which was broadcast live by Time Warner Cable News. “I have therefore decided that after 32 years of public service I will retire from the New York State Assembly.”
Gabryszak’s attorney, Terrence Connors, said Gabryszak will be sending an official letter of resignation to the Assembly this week.
Seven female employees have filed notices of claim against Gabryszak, reserving their right to sue him and the state Assembly in civil court. They accused him of making repeated inappropriate remarks about their appearance and his late-night activities, including frequent visits to strip clubs.
Gabryszak, speaking for the first time since the allegations surfaced, admitted to “mutual banter and exchanges” that were inappropriate. But he denied that it rose to the level of sexual harassment and vowed to defend himself in court.
“At this time, I want the public and my colleagues to know: There was no sexual contact between me and my members of my staff. There was never a request that sexual contact should occur,” Gabryszak said. “There never was any intent on my part to sexually harass any member of my staff or to create a hostile work environment. In fact , there are allegations that have been made that are demonstrably false. There was mutual banter and exchanges that took place that should not have taken place because it is inappropriate in the workplace, even if it does not constitute sexual harassment.”
In a statement Sunday, Silver said Gabryszak was right to step down.
“As I have said from the start, sexual harassment has no place in the State Assembly and it will not be tolerated,” Silver said. “Mr. Gabryszak’s decision to resign his Assembly seat is the right one.”
UPDATE: Via WGRZ-TV, here’s video of Gabryszak’s resignation announcement: