By Jo Anne Simon, NYS Committeewoman & Democratic District Leader
For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The pattern of abuses by Vito Lopez towards women staffers is as disgusting as it is irrefutable, as the release of the JCOPE report proves. However, despite the JCOPE report and the findings of the Special District Attorney, a loophole has thus far enabled him to escape criminal responsibility for repeatedly sexually harassing and abusing multiple former staffers.
While we would all like to believe there have been exhaustive and comprehensive investigations into Lopez' wrongdoing, the fact is JCOPE only covered Lopez' actions since November 2010, and even then they only focused on violations of the Public Officers Law. JCOPE didn't even interview Lopez staffers hired before November 2008. This limited investigation leaves a 25 year gap in which Lopez' likely carried on his sex attacks.
Special District Attorney Donovan, who carried out many of his interviews in cooperation with JCOPE only looked at the incidents in June & July 2012, and was careful to say he couldn't find "a chargeable crime was committed within the confines of Kings County” (emphasis added).
Even with their limited investigation JCOPE found "Lopez engaged in a pervasive pattern of abuse of public office and resources, not for a personal financial gain but for his personal gratification and desires." Given this detailed pattern of Lopez' outrageous behavior, the amount of time and staff in Albany, and Lopez' taking female staff on overnight trips outside of Brooklyn (indeed, outside the United States), there were far more opportunities for Lopez to prey on staffers than have been investigated.
At the beginning of these horrendous revelations the public cried out for a full investigation of Assemblyman Lopez' actions. But today, despite a documented pattern of abuses, we still do not have a complete investigation into Vito Lopez’ actions.
The overwhelming evidence of Lopez' attacks beg the question of what criminal conduct by Vito Lopez is still hiding in the shadows – acts that deserve to be criminally prosecuted.
Lopez refused to appear before JCOPE because his "counsel would advise him to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination." That’s his right, but these reports have every appearance of having exposed only the tip of the iceberg as far as Vito Lopez' criminal wrongdoings. The public is still waiting for a full investigation, and it's long overdue.
Vito Lopez must resign. No one should support him for election to the City Council or any other public office.