New York, NY- Sanctions against New York Assemblyman Micah Kellner, who was accused of engaging in inappropriate behavior with his male and female interns, can stand, a hearing officer determined this week.
Kellner challenge the sanctions, saying his rights to due process were denied, but as the New York Daily News reported, hearing officer, former appeals court Judge Harry Levine, disagreed with Kellner’s assertions and upheld the sanctions.
Last year, allegations surfaced that Kellner, a Democrat, sexually harassed two men on his staff, including making sexual advances towards then, and exchanged sexually explicit messages via the internet with a female aide. Then, the New York Daily News discovered that the 2009 allegations were never forwarded to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. Those allegations were kept secret despite the commission’s request to see all sexual harassment allegations in the wake of the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal.
The hearing officer also upheld sanctions imposed on Kellner by Assembly House Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has, in the past, been accused of covering up sexual harassment allegations against both Kellner and Lopez.
Last year, Silver relieved Kellner of his duty as head of the Assembly Library Committee. Kellner was forbidden from hiring interns and his employee allowances were frozen. He initially appealed those sanctions to face additional sanction for employing an intern, according to the Daily News.
Kellner admitted to the sexually explicit online exchanges, but said he didn’t believe they rose to the level of sexual harassment. He said if the woman had told him the online chats made her uncomfortable he would have stopped having them.
In the initial hearings, some of evidence used to sanction Kellner he was not allowed to see, because of this, he said his rights to due process were denied.
“After being denied the right to face my accuser, contest the evidence against me or even to have a fair in-person hearing, I am not surprised that lawyers at a lobbying firm, who’s (sic) very business relies on remaining in the good graces of Shelly Silver, upheld his ruling,” Kellner said, according to the Daily News.
Kellner is not seeking re-election.
Kellner is just one among many politicians accused of sexually harassing their employees or interns. A simple Google search will reveal case after case. At USA Attorneys we’ve covered story after story sexual harassment involving politicians and their employees.
Most experts agree that sexual harassment is more about power than it is about sex. And when the harasser is a person in a powerful position, their victims are reluctant to some forward. This is when the assistance of a sexual harassment attorney is instrumental. Should a sexual harassment victim decide they want to seek compensation, they need expert legal advice.
Even if a harasser is a powerful politician, the victim has a course of action they can pursue to end their abuse and receive compensation for their emotional distress. A sexual harassment attorney will stand by their clients and give them the protection and strength they need end the sexual misconduct.