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Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright Pushes Bill That Would Send Public Servants Convicted Of Sexual Harassment To Jail

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A state assembly member from Manhattan is seeking to create a first-in-the-nation bill that would increase the punishment for public servants convicted of sexual harassment.

They could receive a jail sentence instead of fines and the possibility of being fired, CBS2's political reporter Marcia Kramer reported Monday.

The list of women making accusations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, charging him with sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior, is long.

Under state and federal law, sexual harassment is prohibited, but apparently it's not a crime. Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright wants to change that.

"As a former assistant district attorney, I feel that we need to define sexual harassment, update our statutes," Seawright said.

As hard as it is to believe, with all the allegations about Gov. Cuomo, right now a public servant convicted of sexual harassment in New York could lose his job or be fined.

Seawright has introduced legislation to make it a misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail.

"This is a clear message to public officials that we're being held to a higher standard, that we're creating stronger safeguards against sexual harassment," Seawright said.

The bills would apply not only to elected officials, but to all public servants who hold state, local and municipal positions.

The move comes as more New Yorkers say they believe the governor committed sexual harassment.

In a Siena College poll, voters by a margin of 44 to 22 said the governor sexually harassed women. Thirty-four percent were undecided.

Last month, 35% said Cuomo committed sexual harassment. Twenty-four percent said no and 41% were undecided.

The governor dismissed the poll.

"They do these polls all the time. To tell you the truth, I don't put too much stock into them," Cuomo said.

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