A state judge has ordered a special prosecutor to expand his probe of a sexual harassment case in the state Assembly to include a secret settlement using public money approved by the chamber’s leader.
State Supreme Court Justice Fern Fisher says Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan should investigate not only sexual harassment claims against Assemblyman Vito Lopez, but a private settlement approved by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The powerful Democratic speaker says he wants a full investigation. He has said he regrets making the secret deal to settle two claims against Lopez in June. Although Silver says the agreement was legal and ethical and at the request of the accusers, he says it conflicts with the need for transparent government.
Lopez has denied sexually harassing anyone.