The attorney representing a local New York State Assemblywoman issued a written response on her behalf Thursday to the sanctions placed on her following a sexual harassment complaint filed by a top aide.
In a written statement, Steven M. Cohen says his client, Assemblywoman Angela Wozniak, is "pleased and not surprised" that she was cleared by the Assembly's Ethics Committee of sexual harassment and other related charges.
The committee determined her sexual relations with that aide were consensual. The committee also decided, however, that Wozniak then attempted to retaliate against that employee after he filed a complaint. This reportedly came after Wozniak informed her husband of the affair.
Wozniak's sanctions include a ban on interns and a formal letter of admonition.
Cohen, in his statement, says the committee is mistaken in its finding that his client publicly identified her accuser to local news media. That, he insists, came from another source different source. News media, he claims, approached his client with the accuser's name.
Later in the evening, Wozniak issued a video statement through her attorney acknowledging and apologizing for her "poor judgment."
Wozniak was elected to her seat in 2014 following the resignation of former Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, who ironically was charged with sexual misconduct by several of his female staffers.
Cohen, in his statement, says Wozniak plans to seek re-election.
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Full written statement by attorney Steven M. Cohen, representing Assemblywoman Angela Wozniak
Assemblymember Wozniak is pleased and not at all surprised that she was cleared by the Ethics Committee of any and all charges for sexual harassment, sexual quid-pro-quo or causing a sexually hostile work environment. (p. 3, par 5 of Ethics Report dated March 8, 2016 [“Ethics Committee Report”])
Ms. Wozniak is prohibited by the Assembly Ethics Committee from responding to the finding that she made false statements to one person that “reflected poorly on the employee’s job performance.” (p. 3, par. 4 of Ethics Committee Report; p. 4, numbered par. 2 of the Ethics Committee Report; p. 2, 4th un-numbered paragraph of March 9th Sanction letter by Carl E. Heastie [“Heastie Letter”])
Ms. Wozniak is prohibited by the Assembly Ethics Committee from responding substantively to the finding that she “prohibited [her accuser] from working in the District office” while Ms. Wozniak was present, or prohibited her accuser from “attending community meetings while she was present” (p. 3, par. 3 and p. 4, numbered par. 2 of the Ethics Committee Report; p. 2, 4th un-numbered paragraph of Heastie Letter), except to say that the Assemblywoman’s physically distancing herself from her accuser was at the advice and instruction of her legal counsel.
The Ethics Committee is mistaken in its finding that Ms. Wozniak’s counsel “told the press the name of the [accuser].” The media approached Ms. Wozniak’s attorney with the name of the accuser prior to any utterance by counsel of the accuser’s name, which was only raised by counsel as a confirmation of data already in the possession of the media from other sources. Recipients of this Statement are encouraged to contact Ryan Whalen at YNN and George Rickert (sic) formerly of WIVB-Buffalo for confirmation of that fact. Evidence of this was given to the Ethics Committee.
Assemblywoman Angela Wozniak continued to represent and advocate for her constituents without interruption throughout the investigation and looks forward to continuing to do so without distraction now that the matter is closed.
Angela Wozniak is grateful for the overwhelming support she has received by the residents of the Towns of Cheektowaga and Lancaster and the Village of Depew whom she has been diligently serving in the Assembly since December of 2014. She served with distinction as a Councilmember for the Town of Cheektowaga since 2012. Having won two prior elections, Ms. Wozniak looks forward to running for re-election to the Assembly in the upcoming race.