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Special Prosecutor To Not Press Criminal Charges Against Assemblyman Lopez

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State Assemblyman Vito Lopez will not face charges over allegations he groped several young female staffers in Brooklyn.

Special prosecutor Dan Donovan will not bring charges against Lopez.

The decision comes after a months long investigation, which was limited to Brooklyn, did not find enough evidence to charge the assemblyman, who has maintained his innocence.

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver authorized a payment of more than $100,000 in taxpayer money to settle earlier allegations.

Donovan says his investigation did not find any criminality with that payment.

Meanwhile, the state Joint Commission On Public Ethics (JCOPE) issued its own report, after the ethics committee interviewed 45 witnesses, issued 49 subpoenas and went through about 20,000 pages of documents.

The commission found that female staffers in Lopez's state office felt intimidated by their boss, who tried to forcibly kiss and touch them inappropriately, and there are numerous text messages by staffers saying they felt afraid around the assemblyman.

Therefore, the JCOPE report says that Lopez engaged in "knowing, willful, and prolonged mistreatment of certain female members of his Assembly staff."

"We know enough to know that this man should never again be an elected official," said Barbara Bartoletti of the League of Women Voters.

The report goes on to say, "Lopez engaged in a pervasive pattern of abuse of public office and resources, not for a personal financial gain, but to indulge his personal whims and desires.... By this conduct, Lopez indisputably breached the public and thereby violated the Public Officers Law."

"I think it is outrageous that he is running for the City Council, and I think all people of good will across this city need to stand together to prevent Vito Lopez from getting into the City Council," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

State ethics officials have yet to act on the report's findings.

In a statement, Lopez criticizes JCOPE for not letting him question the evidence and the witnesses, claims the commission is driven by "political agenda" and calls its report an "all out war against an ailing senior member."

His statement says in part, "JCOPE found that there was no impropriety whatsoever with regard to those matters. It cleared Mr. Lopez of any claim that he sought to influence the Assembly to settle the claims and it cleared him entirely of any claim that he ever misused funds or other resources of the Assembly."

The allegations have led to Lopez losing his spot as the leader of Brooklyn's Democratic Party.

Lopez remains censured in the Assembly, but is expected to make a run for City Council.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon silver who admitted that keeping the settlements secret was a mistake also issued a statement Wednesday, saying that "a full review of the facts by both JCOPE and the Special Prosecutor has found that all actions by the Assembly were lawful and there was no basis for an ethics complaint against the Speaker or his staff."

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