Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez will not face any criminal charges related to the numerous allegations of sexual harassment that arose from his office. Staten Island DA Daniel Donovan Jr., who was appointed as a special prosecutor to investigate the complaints, said in a statement [PDF] that he couldn't find any instances in which the former chairman of Brooklyn's Democratic party committed a crime. "Certainly, what we found is alarming," Donovan acknowledged. "However, based on our investigation, there is no basis upon which to conclude that a chargeable crime was committed within the confines of Kings County."
Lopez secretly settled sexual harassment allegations with $103,080 of your money. Thanks to confidentiality clauses inserted in the settlements at his request, he would go on to garner more complaints from staffers who weren't aware of the allegations. One former female employee of Lopez told the Daily News that he once complimented the "very sexy way" a 14-year-old intern dressed, and then wondered aloud if it was legal anywhere in the United States for a 71-year-old to have sex with someone who was that age.
Donovan's letter scolds the Assembly and Speaker Sheldon Silver, and notes that their primary concern was "mitigating the Assembly’s damages. That goal outweighed any interest in investigating or disciplining Assembly Member Lopez or in preventing similar occurrences in the future."
"Resolving the complaints in this secretive manner and requiring a confidentiality clause edited by Assembly Member Lopez apparently encouraged him to continue the inappropriate conduct," the DA wrote.
Donovan, a Republican, also singles out the State Attorney General's office for adopting an "arm's length approach" in approving the confidentiality clauses, as well as the State Comptroller's Office for designating the settlement payment as "legal services."
At no time does the State Comptroller make independent inquiries into the legitimacy of a claim or the propriety of a payment. Worse, because of the limits of the computer software used to track payments, there is no mechanism in place for the Comptroller’s Office to record the nature or true purpose of a payment.
It's as if the whole system is rigged to protect these people from public scrutiny!