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Activists Call On Assemblyman Lopez To Resign Over Sex Harassment Allegations

CBS 2 Has Learned Rep. Velazquez Trying To Find Him Serious November Foe
About 15 men gathered on the steps of City Hall in New York City demanding state Assemblyman Vito Lopez resign on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

About 15 men gathered on the steps of City Hall in New York City demanding state Assemblyman Vito Lopez resign on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A war of words has erupted in the Vito Lopez scandal. The embattled Brooklyn assemblyman is firing back at demands that he resign.

From health care to housing, Assemblyman Lopez has always delivered for his district. But after an ethics panel ruled the Brooklyn power broker sexually harassed several female staffers, many, including a group of men concerned about violence against women, said it’s time for Lopez to leave office, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported Wednesday.

“We must do all we can to protect women’s rights in the workplace, and keep them away from abusers like Vito Lopez,” Juan Ramos said.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports

Lopez answered his detractors Tuesday, saying “I will not capitulate to those self-serving tactics and demands.”

He’s running for re-election in November with only token opposition. Lopez’s political power base is a non-profit he founded that serves thousands of seniors, who are loyal voters.

“I know he’s a very nice man and he helps everyone,” one senior told CBS 2’s Aiello.

1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports

Despite his political power — or perhaps because of it — Lopez has lots of political enemies, and they’re working to find a write-in candidate willing to challenge him.

CBS 2 has learned Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, a longtime Lopez foe, is helping to lead that effort.

Meanwhile, Lopez is facing growing legal jeopardy.

Albany District Attorney David Soares, along with special prosecutor Dan Donovan, are investigating whether Lopez committed any sexual assaults.

Potential proof is right in the ethics committee report, which found that Lopez committed “multiple incidents of unwelcome physical conduct” with one young woman who worked in his office.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is also under fire, for approving a secret payment to settle a sex harassment complaint against Lopez.

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