Hollaback! Statement on Holding Assembly Member Vito Lopez Accountable for his Serial Sexual Harassment

Earlier today, the New York Post reported that 71-year-old New York State Assembly Member Vito J. Lopez, an alleged serial workplace sexual harasser “made comments about a 14-year-old intern, how attractive she dressed, and [that] he wanted one of the female staffers to dress in a sexy way like this 14-year-old.”

It gets worse — this was not an isolated instance, but a part of a disturbing pattern of sexual misconduct.  This past summer, an Assembly Ethics Committee report regarding Lopez and two women who had worked in his office stated: “There were multiple incidents of unwelcome physical conduct toward one complainant, wherein you 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 could go.”  Soon after, it was discovered that two different former employees had previously notified the Assembly of Lopez’s sexual harassment, resulting not in a referral to the Assembly Ethics Committee, but rather a confidential settlement which required the employee harassment victims to resign from their jobs.  Member Lopez, the harasser, was not required to resign, and he remains in office.

As an organization that combats sexual harassment, Hollaback! finds this completely unacceptable, and we have previously called upon Lopez to resign. We reinstate that call and also demand that the Assembly, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, the Legislative Ethics Commission, and the public hold Member Lopez accountable for his inexcusable behavior towards his employees. A sexual harasser does not deserve to be in a position of power and public trust.  If we tolerate this behavior, it emboldens harassers and silences victims.

We applaud the former employees for their HOLLAs. We’ve got your back.

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