As a women-led organization, True Blue NY takes accusations of sexual harassment and abuse very seriously. Accordingly, we were disturbed to learn today that the Leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, Senator Jeff Klein, has been accused of forcibly kissing a former staffer half his age. Senator Klein’s initial statement — that he believes it is “crystal clear” that nothing happened — is an inadequate and inappropriate response. To the contrary, the accusation is quite credible and requires immediate investigation.

At a time when the Governor and State Legislature are about to negotiate changes to New York’s sexual harassment guidelines, the women of this state must be confident there are no abusers in the room. Senate Democratic Leader Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins recently introduced comprehensive legislation to combat sexual harassment in government, and the women of New York must know that this legislation will be not be dismissed, decimated, or undermined from within.

The manner in which the Independent Democratic Conference has started to impugn Erica Vladimer does not the give the impression that Albany is a place women will receive justice, individually or collectively. True Blue NY stands with Ms. Vladimer, who has bravely come forward against this powerful man to share her story. We call on Senator Klein to step down from his Senate seat and leadership position pending a thorough, independent investigation.