The state Legislative Ethics Committee this morning released a state investigation into the series of sexual harassment charges against Assemblyman Vito Lopez, saying he created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in his office and verbally attacked his aides.
The 70-page report from the Joint Commission on Public Ethics details a long list of charges against Lopez as far back as 2010, mainly sexual harassment against his young female aides.
In one instance, he allegedly tried to entice a young aide to let him into her hotel room. In another instance, he gave an aide $50 “to purchase a low-cut blouse to wear,” the report said.
In another case, Lopez went to dinner with a female aide, and “Lopez used his foot to touch Employee 1’s foot underneath the table.”
“Lopez also used his position and power to create an environment in which employees were afraid of professional and personal reprisal if they complained or resigned,” the JCOPE report said. “Lopez was a dominant force in Brooklyn politics, and several women expressed concerns about their future opportunities should they run afoul of him.”
JCOPE said it referred its findings to the Legislative Ethics Committee for further action. The report said Lopez violated the Public Officers Law because “there is a substantial basis to conclude that Lopez used his office to pursue a course of conduct that was in violation of his public trust, to secure unwarranted benefits, and to give a reasonable basis for the impression that one could unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of one’s official duties.”