Newest claim against Gabryszak says he forced himself on aide - The Buffalo News

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Newest claim against Gabryszak says he forced himself on aide

Other female aides to Dennis Gabryszak complained about his lewd and suggestive comments.

Trina Tardone is the first to say he forced himself on her when they were alone.

“The assemblyman grabbed her and tried to kiss her,” Tardone’s lawyer writes in the latest notice of claim drawn up against the assemblyman and the Assembly.

Tardone, according to the document, broke away, gathered up her purse and briefcase, and told her boss that she would never be alone with him again.

Gabryszak’s response: She would no longer be reimbursed for her job-required travel to Albany.

Tardone served as Gabryszak’s communications director from July 2009 to December 2010. She was among the succession of women who have held that post since Gabryszak took office seven years ago.

Emily C. Trimper was Gabryszak’s district office administrator from August 2007 through March 2008.

Together, Trimper and Tardone have collaborated on a new notice of claim that signals their intent to sue in the State Court of Claims. It makes them the fifth and sixth women to publicly accuse the assemblyman of sexual harassment.

Gabryszak, a Democrat living in Depew, has not uttered a word about the complaints since they broke onto the Albany scene in the week leading up to Christmas. His lawyer has silenced him pending an investigation by the Assembly’s Ethics and Guidance Committee.

Speculation has grown in Albany that Gabryszak will resign before the 2014 legislative session formally begins with the governor’s State of the State address Wednesday, followed by the first full day of business Jan. 13. But even with more accusers about to surface, Gabryszak’s lawyer offered no suggestion that he will leave office before the ethics panel hears his case.

“The Assembly has very specific rules when dealing with allegations of this nature,’’ said Terrence M. Connors of Buffalo. “The rules provide for a hearing. We intend to follow the rules. We intend to participate in a hearing because the assemblyman, like every other citizen, is entitled to due process of law.’’

Several prominent Albany Democrats have urged Gabryszak to resign if the allegations are true. Among them is Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who raised the volume in recent days by saying Gabryszak should either deny the allegations publicly or resign. If he doesn’t resign, the governor said, the Assembly should expel him.

“The latest reports of sexual harassment in the Assembly should be the last straw,” Cuomo said in a statement Tuesday. “This pattern of behavior is repugnant by every standard and directly contradicts the policies the Assembly has advanced for the last 20 years.”

Like the first four women to complain about Gabryszak, Trimper was in her 20s when she began working for him in 2007 for about $11,000 a year. Like the others, she says he made the workplace uncomfortable.

According to the legal notice: He referred to the Cinemax channel as “Skin-A-Max” because of the risque programs he would find there. He hung photos of women’s navels in his office. He would lean over her and invade her personal space. He offered use of his Albany apartment if she needed a place to stay while in the capital.

Tardone, unlike the others, was not in her 20s. She was 48, and Gabryszak was 57 when, according to the notice, he started making advances in her first week of employment in the summer of 2009.

When she arrived in Albany, he met her at her hotel and insisted he go with her to her room to ensure that it was acceptable. They were expected at a dinner, and Tardone asked Gabryszak to leave the room so she could change. Instead, he took off his jacket, sat on the bed and started watching television, according to the legal document. Tardone took her clothes into the bathroom to dress privately.

Gabryszak, according to Tardone’s notice, often suggested she stay at his apartment while in Albany, and she would tell him it would be inappropriate.

But she was at his apartment one day in 2009 to review some documents he had there. That’s when he tried to kiss her, according to the notice.

After being spurned, Gabryszak became hostile toward Tardone, she claims. According to the notice, he told her she “worked at his pleasure and that if she didn’t do what he asked, including traveling with him and attending dinners and social events with him, that she would be let go.”

The document goes on to say that Tardone used her own salary – Assembly records put it at about $34,000 a year – to pay for her travel and lodging when she was required in Albany. Apparently, she worked on political business as well as legislative tasks. Her LinkedIn profile says that she was involved in “continuous planning and production of fund-raisers and events.”

Tardone did not respond to Buffalo News telephone messages left on her cellphone and at her workplace.

Like many of the other women now complaining publicly about Gabryszak, she says she went to his chief of staff, Adam Locher.

Locher’s response, according to the notice, was to “just ignore it, that is the way Dennis is.’’

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