The string of sexual-harassment cases at the Capitol have been so troubling that Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to start a hotline so accusers have a safe place to lodge their complaints.
There have been at least three cases of sexual harassment against Democratic members of the Assembly in past year. Two of them have resigned: Vito Lopez and Dennis Gabryszak.
“What makes it worse is there have been complaints that people didn’t know where to go and didn’t know how to make their voice heard, and there have been complaints that people have felt that not only were they being victimized, but there was no recourse,” Cuomo said yesterday. “That has to stop. It has to stop once and for all.”
The idea was knocked by Republicans — not so much for the idea, but simply for the fact that Albany has been so troubled that it even needs such a thing.
They put the blame on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, for not doing more to clean up the chamber.
Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino, a potential Republican gubernatorial candidate, told Republican leaders at a fundraiser last night that it was “especially hard to stomach a governor who talks about sexual harassment on a stage while standing 30 feet from Sheldon Silver.”
Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, R-Fishkill, Dutchess County, called it the “Sheldon Silver” hotline.
“If we need a hotline because we can’t rely on Silver to do the right thing, that’s the best argument that Silver needs to go,” Lalor said in a statement. “Governor Cuomo could send a message that sexual harassment has no place in Albany if he called for Sheldon Silver’s resignation. Silver has created the environment where victims are afraid to come forward. We need Silver’s resignation, not a hotline.”
Michael Whyland, a Silver spokesman, said the speaker supports the hotline.
“We would support any way for employees throughout state government to come forward so that they can feel comfortable making complaints and help ensure safe work environments,” Whyland said.