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Strongest Jewish Politician in NY State May Be Deposed over Handling of Sex Harassment

Sheldon Silver

NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), arguably the most powerful Jewish politician in a state that has a Jewish senator and several Jewish Congressmen, is scheduled to give a deposition under oath on Dec. 17 in a federal lawsuit brought by two former staffers of former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, according to the women’s attorney Kevin Mintzer.

Victoria Burhans and Chloe Rivera are charging that Silver put them at risk when he approved a $103, 000 secret settlement with two earlier Lopez victims, opting not to send their complaints to the Assembly Ethics Committee. They’re also suing the NY Assembly for failing to protect its female employees.

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Former Assemblyman Lopez, a Democrat, resigned from his post last year before a vote that would have expelled him. He is scheduled to be deposed on Jan. 8, according to the NY Daily News.

Lopez has been fighting cancer for several years now.

A settlement conference is scheduled for Monday morning in Manhattan Federal Court. Should a settlement be reached, Silver would not be deposed.

Attorneys for Silver and the Assembly have argued that neither is liable in this case, because Lopez hired and supervised his own staff. However, once the two women complained to Silver, the attorneys say he quickly referred the matter to the Ethics Committee, and then implemented the committee’s recommendations that Lopez be stripped of his legislative privileges.

Incidentally, a state Joint Commission on Public Ethics investigation which fined Lopez heavily for sexual harassment of at least eight female staffers, did not recommend sanctions against Silver.



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