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Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr. Disputes Reports Quoting Him As Saying He Wouldn't 'Rat' On Sexual Harassers In The Workplace

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - New York City Council member Ruben Diaz, Sr. is causing a stir at City Hall again.

He's accused of making a controversial comment about sexual harassment in the workplace.

Diaz is denying he said anything offensive.

Thursday afternoon, Diaz was on the defense, telling reporters the New York tabloids got it wrong.

"What I said, is not what the newspaper said. The newspaper wasn't there," he said.

Both the New York Daily News and New York Post reported Rev. Diaz said he wouldn't turn in a staffer if he caught the person making lewd comments to a female coworker.

It's alleged Diaz made the comments Wednesday, during a City Council sensitivity training session. A witness reportedly heard Diaz shout "I'm not gonna rat my people out! This place is full of rats!"

Mayor Bill de Blasio reacted to the alleged remarks Thursday.

"Disgraceful and dangerous words, [Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr.]," de Blasio wrote on Twitter. "Protect victims, not harassers. It's that simple. It's the obligation of all 400,000 public servants in this government. That includes YOU."

A Daily News reporter tweeted Diaz told her sometimes "sexual harassment is a compliment."

This is not the first time Diaz's words have outraged critics.

In February, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called for his resignation when the longtime council member said on a Spanish language radio interview that the City Council is "controlled by the homosexual community."

In 2012, he got in trouble for comparing abortion to the Holocaust in a newsletter saying "Hitler was pro-choice, he chose to send the Jews to Auschwitz."

Diaz says people who heard his most recent remarks Wednesday are distorting what he really said.

Statement by Ruben Diaz, Sr.

You should know that yesterday, Wednesday May 8, 2019, I was a participant at the mandatory closed door training specifically for New York City Council Members – not staff, not press, no cameras, no recordings.  The training was about sexual harassment and bullying.

At some point after the training, an unknown person called the press and reported a distorted version of what happened.

It is important for you to know that I have always protected women and have immediately addressed any sexual harassment or bullying if I have even suspected that a woman has felt uncomfortable when someone is violating the rules.

However, at yesterday's meeting, I did express that I will not report any person who gives a compliment to a lady or a man, in the same way that I will not report any of my colleagues who compliment me about how good I look in my hat.

Ladies and gentlemen, I assure you that I have no intention of protecting sexual harassment or bullying, and I apologize to any and all women or men who may, because of the way I have been misrepresented, have misguided concerns about my behavior in this coordinated campaign against me by people who are distorting facts and trying hard to get me out of the New York City Council.

I am Councilman Rev. Rubén Díaz and this is what you should know.

"They call the newspaper. They gave the newspaper the wrong information according to what they want to hear me. that's OK. Now... one thing I want to tell you. God hates ugly," Diaz said.

CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reached out to Johnson's office Thursday to see if he'll continue to seek Diaz's resignation. They issued the following statement:

"This Council is dead serious about preventing sexual harassment and creating a supportive and protective environment for everyone who works here. Council Member Diaz clearly has no respect for victims of sexual harassment and no clue what he's talking about. His comments are willfully ignorant and unacceptable. It is of the utmost importance to me that staff here feel comfortable in the workplace, and I want to reiterate to Council staff that his remarks are unacceptable and not a reflection of the standards here at the Council."

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