Queens Councilman Barry Grodenchik admitted on Tuesday to harassing a female subordinate with unwanted kisses and hugs, causing "emotional distress" that led her to avoid meetings with the lawmaker.
Grodenchik, a Democrat who represents parts of Eastern Queens, delivered the confession during an executive session inside City Hall on Tuesday. "I understand that my actions caused the council staff member to suffer embarrassment, stress and discomfort, and emotional distress,” he said. “I am deeply sorry for my conduct and for any harm suffered by the council staff member as a result of my conduct."
According to the NY Post, Grodenchik "zipped through" his prepared remarks without looking up, before leaving the room without taking questions. The statement of guilt comes after the council member brushed off the allegation last month, saying only that he “briefly shook hands and hugged several people."
In addition to hugging and kissing the unnamed staffer, Grodenchik also allegedly commented on her weight and blew a kiss to her during a professional meeting in front of other officials.
As a result of copping to the "discrimination and harassment charge," Grodenchik was able to avoid a formal hearing, which was initially scheduled for this week. He has resigned from his chairmanship on the Parks and Recreation Committee and will be forced to undergo sexual harassment training. It does not appear that he will lose his job on the City Council. (Grodenchik declined to comment to Gothamist.)
"Now that this matter is resolved, I want to thank City Council Standards and Ethics Committee Chair Steven Matteo and the other members of the committee for a thorough and thoughtful investigation," said Council Speaker Corey Johnson in a statement, adding that he was "grateful that the Council can move forward and continue working together on behalf of all New Yorkers."
Several cases have been brought to the Standards and Ethics Committee in recent months, including the investigation of sexual harassment complaints against Councilmember Andy King—his second allegation in just two years. Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. was also the subject of an ethics probe regarding his claim that the City Council “is controlled by the homosexual community."
Last week, Diaz was widely criticized for saying he would not report sexually inappropriate behavior inside the City Council because it would make him a snitch. “I’m not gonna rat my people out!" he reportedly shouted during a mandatory harassment training. "This place is full of rats!"