On Friday, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office asked in a court filing to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate alleged criminal wrongdoings of Vito Lopez, the Brooklyn Democrat who is facing sexual harassment charges from two female interns. The DA said, “I believe that were I and my assistants to conduct the preliminary inquiry and, if called for, any ensuing investigation, there is a risk that it may create the appearance of impropriety.”
While numerous Democrat leaders including Governor Andrew Cuomo have asked Vito Lopez to resign, the 71-year old has steadfastly refused to do so. However, he has agreed not to seek re-election as Brooklyn Democratic leader.
The application of the DA calling for a special prosecutor in the case mentioned that the actions of the Brooklyn Democratic leader under scrutiny “potentially could implicate provisions of the Penal Law, the Election Law, and/or other statutes.”
Earlier this week, the New York Times reported the Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver of keeping secret a payment authorized by him in June, largely made up of state money, to settle previous harassment allegations against Vito, unrelated to the present case. The secret sum amounted to $103,080. Silver reacted to the exposure of the news by apologizing, sending a letter of censure to Lopez, stripping Lopez of his seniority, and ensuring that only staff of and above the age of 21 could be employed by him.
The letter of censure sent to Vito also mentioned numerous incidents of “unwelcome physical conduct” including Vito putting his hand between the upper thighs of one of the women complainants.
The Assembly bipartisan Committee on Ethics and Guidance found last week that Vito had created a “hostile workplace” after the two female interns complained of the 71-year old kissing and groping them and also making suggestive comments.