As a member of the Democratic conference, I call upon you to step down from your position as speaker. By failing to refer the December 2011 and January 2012 allegations of sexual harassment directly to the authorized legislative committee, you jeopardized the safety and respect of female employees.

Your initial handling of the accusations against Vito Lopez demonstrate an unacceptable attempt to cover up the allegations of sexual harassment brought by two female employees. The secret settlement of $103,000 using public funds is questionable at best, especially as it pertains to the confidentiality clause.

There were no measures put in place to protect the remaining female staff. The apparent lack of censure, discipline or reprimand for the unwelcome sexual advances has been suggested to have encouraged continuation of the negative behavior and caused subsequent female employees to be subjected to subsequent alleged inappropriate behavior. It placed them in a dangerous work environment that was degrading to women.

As speaker, by not ensuring that the first set of allegations were referred to the Assembly Ethics Committee, you violated the procedure outlined as part of the March 2011 revision of the Assembly Sexual Harassment/Retaliation Policy. That is unacceptable.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics found that the female employees were compelled to comply with inappropriate requests and demands. The commission did not examine your actions as speaker or your staff. The failure to take prompt action to protect female staffers from sexual harassment, intimidation, inappropriate touching and verbal abuse is culpable. Passage of legislation aimed at providing equity and protection for women is hollow when the intent is not manifested in the reality.

Sadly, this latest instance of sexual harassment seems to be a case of dej vu. Silver, your egregious behavior calls for you to relinquish your position as speaker.