Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called on Assemblyman Dennis H. Gabryszak and another Manhattan lawmaker embroiled in separate sexual harassment cases to deny the allegations – or resign.
And if they don’t, Cuomo said, the Assembly should move to expel them.
“The latest reports of sexual harassment in the Assembly should be the last straw,” Cuomo said in a statement released late Tuesday afternoon, perhaps his last official message of 2013. “This pattern of behavior is repugnant by every standard and directly contradicts the policies the Assembly has advanced for the last 20 years.”
Cuomo said: “Assemblymember Dennis Gabryszak must immediately deny the allegations against him or resign. If [Gabryszak and Assemblymember Micah Kellner] do not resign, the Assembly must send a clear message that they do not tolerate this abuse of women and should seriously consider moving to expel them if they seek to return this coming session.”
The statement also said: “Kellner’s conduct, confirmed by the Assembly Ethics and Guidance Committee’s investigation, has no place in New York State government. It is time for him to immediately deny these allegations or resign.”
An ethics committee investigation found that Kellner violated the Assembly’s sexual harassment policy by making inappropriate comments to staff members in 2009 and 2011. Following the results of the investigation released Monday, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Kellner would be removed from his post as chairman of the committee on libraries.
In Gabryszak’s case, three former employees and a current one have all filed notices of claim with the State Court of Claims, accusing the longtime lawmaker from Cheektowaga of a pattern of sexual harassment.
Silver stripped both Kellner and Gabryszak of the ability to participate in the intern program, which runs from January through May.
In addition, two current female aides to Gabryszak have been offered and have accepted paid administrative leave, said Michael Whyland, a spokesman for Silver.
Caitrin Kennedy, who has been employed as Gabryszak’s community relations director since late September, and Virginia Curtis, his legislative director, have been placed on administrative leave, Whyland said.
Kennedy and three former aides have accused Gabryszak, a Cheektowaga Democrat, of making repeated sexually charged comments and suggestions to them.
Three of the women – Annalise Freling, Jamie Campbell and Kimberly Snickles – resigned between March and October, and they filed a notice of claim with the State Court of Claims, which handles financial claims against the state.
Kennedy also filed a notice of claim, though she had been unaware the other women were filing a claim, a spokeswoman for her said.
No interns have been involved in the recent allegations that have surfaced against the assemblyman.
Gabryszak has been silent on the charges. His attorney, Terrence M. Connors, said he has advised the assemblyman not to issue any statements.
Silver on Tuesday issued a statement saying: “As I have said, this kind of behavior is intolerable. Women and all our staff deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. I believe both members must seriously and immediately consider whether they can continue to represent their constituents effectively given the steps we have already taken in response to these allegations, including reducing their staff resources.”
Meanwhile, the Assembly’s Ethics Committee is investigating the charges.
Whyland said he believes Gabryszak’s office has three employees: the two women now on leave and Chief of Staff Adam Locher.
Most legislators are in their home districts this week. The Legislature will return to Albany to start its new session Jan. 8, when Cuomo is to deliver his state of the state address.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. email: firstname.lastname@example.org