Statutory rape laws, what a drag — am I right or am I RIGHT?? At least that's the opinion of New York Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez. The 71-year-old Democrat from Brooklyn was stripped of all party leadership positions because of unsavory comments he made about the sexiness of a 14-year-old intern. Puke. Even better/worse/actually it's all terrible, the girl is the daughter of a Brooklyn judge he helped elect. What can I say — he's a loyal guy.
Unsurprisingly, this isn't Lopez's first incident of extremely inappropriate behavior:
Lopez previously told former employee Chloe Rivera, age 24, he wished she would "dress sexier" and suggested she dress more like that 14-year-old intern. Upon hearing this, Rivera's mother promptly notified the police and filed an ethics complaint with the New York Assembly. (Rivera, along with another female staff member, resigned and filed a sexual harassment complaint against him to the Assembly Ethics Committee.) But wait! There's more! Two other women who worked for Lopez in the past filed sexual harassment complaints against him and quietly received a taxpayer settlement of $103,000 in June 2012.
This is the same man who told staffers to not wear bras:
Lopez told women to wear short skirts and high heels, paid special attention to the "well endowed," and really, really didn't like bras: "He would comment on a shirt I was wearing and say ‘I'd like it better if you didn't have a bra on,' " one former staff member said. "That was something he brought up quite a bit." Another woman said that Lopez "commented that I was well endowed and that another girl in the office was well endowed...but I didn't play it up like she did, and I should wear button-down shirts so he could look down them."
Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women's New York City chapter, said Lopez's behavior is "unsuitable for public office," and is calling for him to resign.
How is all of this not ground for a total dismissal from office? Apparently the Legislative Ethics Committee and Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan - who is acting as a special prosecutor in the Lopez sexual harassment scandal - is seeking the "harshest possible penalties" but not calling for resignation. Uh, how is that the harshest possible penalty, then?
If politicians — you know, the people we entrust to, in part, provide rules that make our lives safer and better — can't be trusted to not pull this shit, who can? It's disgusting that a man who behaves this way is allowed to remain in a position of power — the message that sends to all women is: You are not respected. You are not cared for. You are not important. It's dangerous, and it has to change.