Women’s groups want admitted harasser Barry Grodenchik to resign
Women’s groups and their supporters are calling for Queens legislator Barry Grodenchik’s head, saying the City Council didn’t go far enough in punishing their fellow member for giving a staffer so many hugs and kisses that she skipped meetings to dodge the unwanted attention.
Grodenchik, 59, initially said last month it was not his “intention to make any person feel uncomfortable” before admitting Tuesday that he caused the unnamed council staffer member “emotional distress.”
Council Ethics Committee head Steven Matteo (R-Staten Island) said Tuesday Grodenchik blew the woman a kiss during a professional meeting and hugged and kissed her “in a way that caused her embarrassment and left her to avoid attending meetings and council business conducted at City Hall.”
Grodenchik copped to the charges to avoid an embarrassing public hearing after a lawyer hired by the council determined that the allegations were credible.
The deal allows him to stay in office while enrolling in a sexual harassment training course and giving up his Parks and Recreation Committee chairmanship.
“Only in the face of overwhelming evidence, and after hiring a PR firm, did Councilman Grodenchik admit to having harassed a staffer for the better part of a year,” said Elias Farah and Rita Pasarel of the Sexual Harassment Working Group. The group is comprised of seven former legislative staffers who had experiences with sexual harassment in Albany.
“We commend and strongly support this staffer — Councilman Grodenchik should resign and let Queens voters make a better choice to represent their interests,” they said.
Eleanor’s Legacy, which funds pro-abortion Democratic women candidates in New York State agreed.
“To hold public office is a privilege,” the group tweeted, adding that Farah and Pasarel are “right to call for a resignation.”
Jennifer Fermino, a spokeswoman for City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, defended the penalty.
“The outcome was determined in consultation with the complainant,” Fermino said.
Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women’s NYC Chapter, said “It’s a culture of complicity that allows sexual harassment to flourish.”
She added, “If women had equal representation on the City Council, we could only imagine that more of this behavior would be rooted out.”
Only 11 of the Council’s 51 members are women.
One of them — Helen Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), who has been the most outspoken members against sexual harassment– defended Grodenchik.
“I’m pleased that the council member recognized that his actions were sexual harassment and that he acknowledged it. He’s accepting the consequences and he’s sorry,” Rosenthal said.
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