By Tom Precious
ALBANY – The Assembly will investigate moving to a new policy to have sexual harassment and other complaints against lawmakers handled by an outside, private investigator and not through internal channels, according to a Democratic Buffalo lawmaker.
Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes said she believes the new system will be recommended later this afternoon by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in the wake of how he and his top staff secretly handled sexual harassment claims against former Assemblyman Vito Lopez. She said a task force that Silver appointed her to three weeks ago has already been looking into the idea.
Peoples-Stokes said officials are also examining a new policy to require mandatory reporting of suspected abuse cases.
"If my staff saw me doing something wrong, they'd be required to report it,'' she said of the policy being drafted.
The lawmaker joined other Democrats emerging from a closed-door session with Silver this afternoon giving the longtime Assembly leader a vote of confidence. Silver, she said, recognized he mishandled the Lopez case.
"And he apologized for it. A lot of people when they make mistakes are not going to apologize for it,'' she said.
She said a leadership change this late in the session would create "total chaos.''
taggedAlbany | Sheldon Silver