NEW YORK CITY — Bowing to a growing chorus demanding action, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he would seek the ouster of disgraced Assemblyman Vito Lopez after an official investigation detailed his harassment of female staffers, reports said.
Silver, who had previously advised the Brooklyn Assemblyman to resign but rejected calls to boot him from the legislature, released a statement Thursday night saying he would seek Lopez's expulsion, according to the New York Times.
Silver's announcement came a day after the Legislature's Joint Commission on Public Ethics released a report detailing Lopez's prolonged harassment of his female employees.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement Friday calling for Lopez's immediate departure. "As I said yesterday, there should be a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment and we must now send a clear message that this behavior is not tolerated," Cuomo said. "Vito Lopez should not spend another day in office, let alone a whole month. He should resign effective immediately and if he does not, he must be expelled."
Lopez is said to have asked subordinates to touch tumors on his neck, shoulder and armpit, according to the 70-page report. He demanded female staffers wear heels and low cut blouses, giving money to some to buy a new wardrobe.
In another instance, a staffer got pink eye after Lopez pressured her to put eye drops in his infected eye.
Under Silver's direction, the Assembly leadership had previously paid some of the staffers to keep quiet about their complaints about Lopez's behavior, the Times reported.