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District Attorney: I won’t prosecute Vito Lopez, but someone should

The Brooklyn Paper

District Attorney Charles Hynes wants the state to assign a special prosecutor to investigate sexual harassment claims against Assemblyman Vito Lopez — because the soon-to-step-down Democratic party boss helped him get elected.

Hynes got the support of the Lopez-run Kings County Democratic party in 2009 and expects to get it again next year, so he wants an unbiased district attorney to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against the embattled Bushwick politician rather than conducting an investigation himself.

The borough’s top prosecutor says he requested a special prosecutor after a member of the Assembly’s Committee on Ethics confirmed that some of the complaints against Lopez — who allegedly groped, attempted to kiss, and tried to start sexually charged discussions with staffers — took place in Brooklyn.

“It is appropriate to commence a preliminary assessment of these reported allegations,” Hynes said in a court filing. “The results of such an assessment may trigger the need for further action, including the opening of a formal investigation and the filing or referral of charges.”

Lopez did not return calls for comment.

But Brooklyn Heights district leader Jo Anne Simon — one of the contenders to replace Lopez as party boss — says the politically connected prosecutor made the right move by calling for an outside district attorney.

“It’s very clear that there’s a lot of trouble here, in terms of both civil liability and criminal liability,” said Simon. “Enough has come out already that it warrants an investigation.”

Calling in outside help is a change for Hynes, who prosecuted disgraced former party boss Clarence Norman himself when the shamed Democratic honcho faced corruption charges.

Last week, the Assembly’s Ethics committee demoted and censured Lopez, cutting his budget, stripping him of his coveted position as chairman of the Housing Committee, and eliminating the perks he gained through his seniority after staffers complained about indiscretions including attempted kisses, unwanted advances, and mandated love letters expressing their gratitude to the party boss.

Before this latest round of alleged harassment became public, the Assembly secretly paid out $103,000 of taxpayer money to staffers who accused Lopez of misconduct — while the party boss himself shelled out $32,000 out of pocket to settle claims.

Though he is giving up his influential post atop the borough’s Democratic party, Lopez will remain on the ticket for his Assembly seat and will run unopposed in a Sept. 13 primary.

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Reader Feedback

Claude from Cassablanca says:
Corruption in the Brooklyn Democratic machine !!!
I'm shocked. Round up the usual suspects
Aug. 31, 2012, 8:57 pm
Manny from Sunset Park says:
If the District Attorney Hynes wont prosecute corruption than why do we need him?
Sept. 1, 2012, 12:07 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
DA Hynes is worthless. He does nothing about the rampant corruption in the Brooklyn Democratic machine. But in this case, an independent DA is the right answer. Just make sure it really is an independent DA and not somebody they're trying to curry favor with or who is connected to them some other way.
Sept. 1, 2012, 10:58 am
CraigS from Bushwick says:
The Democratic "machine" is corrupt. Those caught are replaced with a new crop of corrupt officials. It's one reason why I left the Democratic Party and became a Green. It's time for people to consider what party they want to support. Too many years of evidence show the Democratic Party can't be reformed despite the best intentions of some very good individuals.
Sept. 1, 2012, 1:09 pm
anywho says:
Another dog and pony show. What is the point of this inquiry? If the complainant/victims don't want to prosecute, there is NO CASE.
Sept. 1, 2012, 4:26 pm
Bill from Glendale says:
Vito. U r a jerk thinking u can keep ur seat it's over ur a lowlife. U n ur witch girlfriend people are fed up u perv. U can have a seat. In jail. Long overdue. U r guilty. Why settle. If ur not guilty rot in jail ur not staying in office.
Sept. 1, 2012, 8:34 pm
George from Bay Ridge says:
Every year Hynes gives over a Vito scandal to Donovan and nothing happens. Maybe Gloria Alred should be the DA
Sept. 1, 2012, 11:29 pm
nancy from coney says:
hynes dont get me started
the criminals best friend
he looks the other way when the goodguys out there that are law abbing citzens get stabbed in the back
hes all for lining his pocket
hes a real peice of ——
please get this dirt bagout of office
Sept. 2, 2012, 9:37 am

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