In the wake of sexual harassment charges made against New York Assemblyman Vito Lopez, The New York Times reports New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver allowed for a secret payment to settle a previous harassment charge made earlier this year.
The $103,080 payment included taxpayer money, a confidentiality contract, and an agreement for Lopez to attend a sexual harassment seminar.
The payment was ambiguously designated to pay for "legal services."
Since the most recent sexual harassment charges against Lopez, made by two female interns in August, Silver was one of the many to issue strong condemnations against the assemblyman, many of whom insisted Lopez resign.
Governor Cuomo, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio were also among the many powerful Democrats to call for his resignation if the allegations were indeed true.
Silver assured that Lopez was censured by the assembly, and barred Lopez from employing staff under the age of 21. He made no mention, however, of this past harassment claim nor has he publicly acknowledged the money used to quietly brush off past allegations.
On Tuesday, The Daily News editorial board called for an independent probe to investigate the arrangement.
Just days before revelation of the hush money, Silver sent a letter to Lopez detailing a report conducted by the Assembly's Ethics committee, Silver outlined the allegations made by the two most recent female interns, "[Y]ou put your hand on her leg, she removed your hand and you then put your hand between her upper thighs, putting your hand as far up between her legs as you can go."
Silver also said one of the women "struggled to fend you off before you stopped" attempting to kiss her during a trip to Atlantic City.
As of Tuesday, Lopez has denied the most allegations, "The charges made against me are unfair and untrue. Never did I intentionally touch or attempt to kiss either of the complainants. I have never forced myself on anyone, nor would I.”
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