If the many, many allegations of sexual misconduct are true, shamed Assemblyman Vito Lopez is a dirty, dirty old man — he tells female staffers not to wear bras, shoves his hands up their skirts, etc.
The coverup of the disgraced pol’s alleged actions by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are equally slimy. But is it as bad as the coverup at Penn State? Where administrators failed to do anything about the countless claims of sexual abuse of children by serial pedophile Jerry Sandusky? Because that’s what New York Republicans are now comparing it to.
Comparing an alleged filthy old man to an even filthier old man seems like a bit of a stretch — Lopez is just a pervert, while Sandusky is straight-up evil. But state GOPers aren’t comparing perverts, they’re comparing coverups, which seems to be a somewhat valid comparison.
Silver — for what the GOP claims is now the third time — tried to
sweep the charges against Lopez under the rug by secretly ponying up
more than $100,000 in taxpayer money to payoff alleged victims in exchange for their silence.
“Mr. Silver is as guilty of covering up sex crimes in Albany as Penn
State administrators were of ignoring the deplorable crimes that
occurred there, but not a single Democrat in the state has called on him
to step aside,” New York Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox says. “At
least three times, Speaker Silver has chosen to circumvent the criminal
justice system upon learning of sexual offenses by his close Democratic
colleagues, offering hush-money pay-offs instead. Well, it’s three
strikes and you’re out.”
Forget Lopez’s pervy-ness for a minute, and let’s remember Silver’s handling of past allegations of
sexual misconduct, including those against his former chief counsel J.
In 2001, a young female staffer accused Boxley of sexually assaulting
her in his apartment. Rather than go to police, she opted to pursue the
matter through the Assembly, which turned out to be a mistake.
The investigation into Boxley was soon closed, and he remained on Silver’s staff as if nothing ever happened.
Two years later, Boxley pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct — in a
sweetheart deal that kept him out of jail — for an attack on a
different woman. Then, in 2006, Silver and the Assembly agreed to pay
$500,000 to a Jane Doe because the speaker failed to properly
investigate the initial accusations and for “tolerating a culture of
sexual harassment in the Assembly.”
In both Lopez’s and Boxley’s cases, it seems the second wave of
attacks could have potentially been avoided if the two men didn’t think
they had Silver in their pockets to sweep the matters under the rug.
Similarly, Sandusky was allowed to continue to abuse children because officials at Penn State tried to coverup the abuse — rather than report it to authorities — when they first learned of it in 2001.
Cox’s assertion that Democrats have been silent on the issue isn’t
entirely accurate — Democratic Assembly candidate Frank Commisso Jr.
has said he won’t support Silver for another term as speaker. Commisso
just has to get elected first.
Other Dems, however — including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a
leading voice in the Democratic mantra that Republicans have declared
“war on women” — refuse to even discuss the powerful speaker’s role in
covering up the allegations against Lopez.
If you ask us, there’s a reason for their collective silence: they’re
terrified of Silver. Another way to put it: they’re cowards.