New York State Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, a Cheektowaga democrat, resigned effective immediately Sunday afternoon. Gabryszak issued a statement to the media from his attorney's law office.Seven women current and past staffers of his assembly office accuse the lawmaker of sexual harassment.
Gabryszak issued the following letter as he resigned from office:
"Just a few days ago, I was provided the last in a series of allegations made by a group of women who were members of my staff. I have not replied until now because I had not even seen all of the allegations until two days ago. It would have been foolish to respond to allegations I had not yet seen.
During this difficult time, I have continued to fulfill my obligations as a member of the New York State Assembly. I attended meetings in my district and worked in my office responding to requests and inquiries from my constituents.
I have also had lengthy discussions with advisers, supporters and long-time friends. Most importantly, I have spoken at length to the people who mean the most to me, my family. I have also observed first-hand the impact this has had on them.
At this time, I want the public and my colleagues to know:
• There was no sexual contact between me and any members of my staff.
• There was never a request that sexual contact should occur.
• There was never any intent on my part to sexually harass any member of my staff or to create a hostile work environment.
• In fact, there are allegations that have been made that are demonstrably false.
• There was mutual banter and exchanges that took place that should not have taken place because it is inappropriate in the workplace even if it does not constitute sexual harassment.
My decision today is based upon the impact this has had on my family and my concern for the important work of the assembly.
I have, therefore, decided that after 32 years of public service, I will retire from the New York State Assembly. I want to thank all my supporters and constituents from each stage of my public life. It has been an honor to represent you. I am proud of the legislation I have sponsored and the issues I have championed. Often these accomplishments have made a difference in the lives of the people I represented.
I will continue to defend the allegations in the civil litigation that have been made against me, the assembly and the state of New York.
I want to thank all who have reached out to offer support to me and my family. I have learned who my true friends are.
This is a difficult time for me and my family. I will consider questions at a future date."
Hon. Dennis H. Gabryszak
Gabryszak will continue to fight the charges. They are legally complex since none of the seven-women were employees of the former assemblyman but employees of the State Assembly.
This will be the ninth-vacant Assembly seat and Governor Cuomo has shown no interest in special elections to fill those seats or vacant State Senate seats.
Erie County Republican chairman Nick Langworthy tells WBFO News he has made no attempt to find a candidate for the seat without knowing if there will be a special election or if it will be filled in the fall.
"What he is doing is disenfranchising voters across New York State. My understanding there's a million or more residents of the state that don't have representation in the Assembly or in the Senate. That's not right, especially as you go into a legislative session and you have a tremendous amount of important issues that are going to cross the desks of the State Legislature and to have people's voices silent is wrong," said Langworthy.
Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a statement shortly after the Assemblyman resigned:
"Following the latest reports of horrific behavior in the Assembly against Assemblymember Gabryszak, I asked him to either deny the allegations or resign immediately. Today, he has given us his answer. Our representatives in elected office can and should be held to a higher standard -- especially at a time when the Legislature's ethics are being questioned and the confidence of their constituents being undermined. This kind of alleged behavior has no place in New York State government or any other office in society. My thoughts are with the alleged victims and Mr. Gabryszak's family during this difficult time."
Governor Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had called for Gabryszak to resign if the allegations were true when the first surfaced.
"The allegations concerning Mr. Gabryszak’s behavior have been extremely disturbing. The citizens of the 143rd Assembly District deserve to be represented by someone who will be a strong voice for their community and focused on getting things done. As I have said from the start, sexual harassment has no place in the State Assembly and it will not be tolerated. Mr. Gabryszak’s decision to resign his Assembly seat is the right one," said speaker Silver.
State Senator Patrick Gallivan also issued a statement on the resignation:
“In light of today’s announcement that Dennis Gabryszak has resigned his position in the New York State Assembly, I want to assure his former constituents that they are not without representation in state government. I encourage the residents of the 143rd Assembly District to consider my office and staff a resource for them, their families or their business should they need any assistance in dealing with state or local government.”