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Hudson Valley Assemblyman Proposes Bill To Expand AG's Authority To Probe Sex Misconduct

Assemblyman Mike Lawler Photo Credit: Twitter/@lawler4ny
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Photo Credit: flickr/New York Governor's Office
Attorney General Letitia James Photo Credit: Contributed

A lawmaker in the Hudson Valley has proposed new legislation to expand New York Attorney General Letitia James’ authority to investigate sexual misconduct in state government.

With New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo facing allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct, Assemblyman Mike Lawler, who represents parts of Rockland County, is looking to expand the AG’s authority as she investigates the governor.

“Sexual harassment or assault has no place in our society,” Lawler stated. “Wherever and whenever allegations occur, it must be addressed by an independent investigation that ensures fairness and due process for both the accuser and the accused.”

Two former aides have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, first Lindsey Boylan last week, who released a lengthy blog post depicting the claims against him, then by Charlotte Bennett, a former executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration, who opened up to the New York Times.

Lawler said that by expanding the authority of the Attorney General to investigate all allegations of sexual harassment or assault in state government, it will ensure transparency and justice for victims in the process.

“Two former aides have bravely spoken regarding sexual harassment at the hands of Governor Cuomo,” Lawler said. “Their testimony and bravery deserve a truly independent investigation that is free from interference by their accused abuser, the Governor.

“The best way to ensure an independent and just investigation is to expand the attorney general’s authority to investigate claims of sexual misconduct and assault in state government,” the Assemblyman continued. “Nobody, not even the Governor, is above the law.”

Lawler added that his fellow lawmakers “have to set an example,” and “justice needs to be served.

“We have to set the example that no matter what position your accuser is in, you have the right to speak freely on your experiences of sexual harassment and abuse, and that no one has the right or ability to silence you,” he said.

“Sexual harassment is unacceptable and has no place in our society – including the workplace. Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett bravely spoke out about their horrific experiences and justice needs to be served.”  

Cuomo has denied the sexual harassment claims against him, saying that he never inappropriately touched anyone or intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable.

“I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm. I spend most of my life at work and colleagues are often also personal friends,” he said. “At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good-natured way. I do it in public and in private.”

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