NYS approves millions in public money to settle harassment claims
Posted at: 03/05/2013 3:16 AM
State officials approved more than $1 million in public money - in addition to $5.3 million already disclosed - to settle sexual harassment claims against state workers over the last four years, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.
The records released this month show 13 women and one man brought cases against several agencies. The largest payout was for $650,000 in a case involving the state Office of Children and Family Services.
The records are the second batch of documents from the Freedom of Information Law request to the state Attorney General's Office. In October, records showed New York taxpayers paid $5.3 million in more than 20 other settlements since 2008.
Few details are released in the court settlements. Most include the resignation of the worker who brought the case and all note neither the state nor its workers admitted any improper behavior. The settlements ended claims against state agencies including the Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Office, Downstate Medical Center, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp., the state courts system, the Division of Military and Naval Affairs and the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Almost half the cases in the latest records from the Attorney General's Office were settled last year. That's when Albany was embroiled in a scandal over a $103,000 settlement paid by the Assembly to women who accused Democratic Assemblyman Vito Lopez of sexual harassment. Lopez has denied harassing anyone and was easily re-elected to his Brooklyn seat in November.
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics has completed its investigative report and sent it to the Legislature's ethics commission for action. The report hasn't been made public. A special prosecutor, Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, is investigating the case and asked that the report be delayed so it doesn't interview with his investigation.
The records released in October included a $300,000 settlement to a prisoner for an improper "pat and frisk" by a guard. Those records revealed cases against the Department of Corrections, the State University of New York, the City University of New York, the Office of Mental Health and a psychiatric hospital.