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Powerful Brooklyn Democrat Vito Lopez Accused Of Sexual Harassment

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Stunning allegations of sexual harassment have been levied against one of the city's most powerful Democrats. Assemblyman and Brooklyn Democratic Leader Vito Lopez has been censured, stripped of his committee chairmanship and barred from employing young people.

Lopez has most frequently been seen with a bevy of New York City politicians, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who wooed Lopez like nobody's business for an endorsement, CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported.

"I think he'd like to reach out to the outer boroughs, work the Latino vote, and I think he's trying to do it in a good way," Lopez said of Bloomberg back in 2004.

WCBS 880's Irene Cornell reports


But now another kind of 'wooing" -- the alleged sexual harassment of two female employees of the State Assembly -- has led to the downfall of Lopez.

In a stunning move that has sent shock waves through the city and the capital, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver censured Lopez, stripped him of his Housing Committee chairmanship and seniority and barred him from employing interns or anyone under the age of 21.

In a letter to Lopez, Silver said that allegations of verbal and physical misconduct during June and July of this year were "credible."

"There were multiple incidents of unwelcome physical conduct toward one complainant," Silver wrote. "Wherein you put your hand on her leg, she removed your hand, and you then put your hand between her upper thighs, putting your hand as far up between her legs as you could go.'

Lopez was also charged with forcing one of the women to go to Atlantic City with him, where he allegedly put the moves on her and tried to kiss her.

Lopez, who has been an assemblyman for 28 years and head of the Brooklyn Democratic Party since 2005, has long been considered one the city's top patronage kings. His Ridgewood-Bushwick Senior Citizens Council  has received numerous grants and has helped fuel his political machine.

Lopez did not return calls seeking comment.

On Friday there were numerous calls seeking his resignation from the Assembly and his party leadership post.

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