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Silver apologizes for how he handled sexual abuse controversy

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Rochester: Silver apologizes for how he handled sexual abuse controversy
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Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is apologizing for how he handled a sexual abuse controversy that's reached the top levels of state power. It is the first time he's spoken publicly since he stripped former Brooklyn party boss Vito Lopez of power. Josh Robin has the story.

NEW YORK STATE -- "Certainly we made mistakes," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

The Speaker of the State Assembly says he's sorry. The Assembly should have referred to its ethics committee charges from two employees that Vito Lopez was sexually inappropriate. And he should have let taxpayers know of a six-figure settlement he approved.

Four women have come forward. The case for two went to the ethics commission. Silver said staff informed him the others wanted their charges handled confidentiality.

Silver said, "I was advised that people didn't want to participate in the ethics committee."

But Gloria Allred, one of the victim's attorneys, said Silver had a legal obligation to immediately investigate the charges.

"The excuse that an employer is not doing an investigation in order to protect the privacy of an employee is ludicrous," Allred said.

Emails show aides to both Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli were aware of the settlement, though they've downplayed their roles.

DiNapoli said, "Our office has a very limited role in any kind of settlement discussion. Whether or not we should change that role is, I think, a broader discussion.”

To Silver, talk of the scandal distracts the delegation from the task at hand: Re-electing President Obama. But he tried turning it to democrats' advantage.

"I think the republicans, generally in their campaigning, have campaigned for a war on women," Silver said.

Silver says he told Lopez to resign from the State Assembly, a plea he's rebuffed.

Meanwhile a fight is under way to replace Lopez as Brooklyn democratic leader. As for Silver's leadership, his colleagues say they're comfortable with him in charge of the State Assembly.

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