Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was called to testify before a state ethic commission for his involvement in the sexual harassment scandal of pol Vito Lopez, The New York Daily News reported.
The ethics commission has subpoenaed at least seven people on the Assembly payroll including Silver’s chief counsel Jim Yates, Assembly attorney William Collins, both of whom headed talks over the settlement.
The commission is trying to determine why Silver approved of a secret financial settlement of $130,000 to two women who accused Vito Lopez of sexually harassing them. After Silver negotiated the secret settlement, Lopez was forbidden from hiring women under the age of 18 in his Bronx office.
Months after the settlement, other women came forward accusing Lopez of inappropriate sexual contact and comments. The most allegations revealed the settlement which and now Silver is been in the hot seat for approving the settlement and covering up Lopez’s horrendous behavior.
Silver’s attorney, Jim Yates, would not reveal the details of his testimony only saying that his client was cooperating with the investigation, according the Daily News.
Silver previously insisted that he approved of the settlement in order to protect the identity of the victims and prevent a million dollar lawsuit. But others believe it was part of cover-up protecting Lopez and the Assembly as a whole.
Sexual harassment is an issue in many workplaces, employers who attempt to gloss over or cover up repeated harassment do a disservice to themselves and their employees. Victims of harassment want the behavior to stop, but it is often allowed to continue by employers who fail to address or take the allegations seriously, leaving the employee no other option than retaining a New York sexual harassment attorney to seek damages for lost wages and emotional distress.