Ceretto Joins Growing Chorus Calling For Silver to Step Down
Last week, State Rep. John Ceretto called for the resignation of Assemblyman Vito Lopez, and asked assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to step down after the release of The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) report detailing alleged sexual misconduct of Lopez toward members of his female staff and a cover-up by Silver.
Lopez said he would resign his seat on June 20.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Silver are pushing to have Lopez expelled from the Assembly immediately.
An expulsion vote may occur this week.
“No man who has a repeated history of sexual harassment is fit for public office. I am also urging Speaker Silver to step down because he enabled Lopez’s behavior for years and did not do enough to protect the female staffers who worked for (Lopez).”
Lopez is alleged to have groped and harassed at least eight young female employees in his Brooklyn office.Women allegedly were forced to massage his body, asked to spend the night with him in hotel rooms and instructed to wear skimpy skirts and high heels.
One woman was made to feel the tumors on his neck, shoulder and armpit as Lopez, who has cancer, told her he was dying. Another said she contracted pinkeye after being made to put drops into his affected eye.
Lopez denied all wrongdoing and suggests that he’s a victim of a smear campaign.
When Silver first learned about the first harassment allegations, more than a year and half ago, he directed the Assembly to quietly enter into settlement negotiations, paid out $103,000 in taxpayer money and, at the insistence of Lopez and Assembly lawyers, included a confidentiality clause thus allegedly exposing more women to Lopez's alleged harassment.
Silver did not send the matter to an Assembly Ethics Committee — which is required by the Assembly’s sexual harassment policy.
Joining Ceretto in calling for Silver to step down are dozens of others including predictably attorney Gloria Allred who represents two of Lopez's alleged victims and State Republican Chairman Ed Cox.
Silver who is now being widely criticized is, of course, pointing an accusatory finger at Lopez and calling for his ouster.
Lopez maintained his innocence and said he was stepping down to focus on his campaign for New York City Council in November.
Lopez will walk away with an annual pension of $64,634.28.
Ceretto, a father of two, said he will vote for the expulsion of Lopez and support a call to oust Silver from his position as speaker.
|Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr.||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||
May 21, 2013