2 women staffers sue Assembly speaker over scandal

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ALBANY, N.Y. – Two female Assembly staffers who accused Assemblyman Vito Lopez of sexual harassment are suing him and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for his role in a secret settlement of previous claims.

The two women, 27-year-old Victoria Burhans and 25-year-old Chloe Rivera, say they were hired by Assemblyman Vito Lopez last year and were subjected to sexual harassment by the Brooklyn Democrat. According to the lawsuit, both women still work for the Assembly.

The two women filed the civil suit in U.S. District Court Thursday.

The suit details specific claims of harassment by Lopez and that Silver's staff made no attempt to investigate Lopez or protect the women on his staff. The testimony against Lopez includes the demand for hand massages, a request to sleep naked at the Governor's mansion, and a suggestion to sleep with a person in the governor's office in order to get legislation passed.

The suit also states that Silver had settled claims by two other women against Lopez in a secret deal using $103,000 in public money.

Burhans and Rivera claim “mental anguish, emotional distress and humiliation as a result of defendants discriminatory acts.”

Neither complaint specifies the exact amount of damages sought by the two women.

Lopez has denied sexually harassing anyone. He has resigned his seat to run for New York City Council. He faces civil charges recommended by the state ethics board.

Silver has admitted mistakes, made an extraordinary apology and is proposing reforms.

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