For many years, New York government has had a national reputation for corruption. That reputation is well-deserved, as the list of Albany politicians that have run afoul of the law or resigned due to scandal is long. Corruption in Albany transcends lines of geography, political affiliation, gender, and race.
While political corruption typically involves the misuse of one’s office for financial gain, many Albany politicians have misused their respective offices for the purpose of engaging in sexually predatory behavior. This, too, is a manifestation of corruption. Over the years, Albany has had an uneven history in regard to accountability for predatory politicians; in some instances, the system has covered up potential scandals instead of providing justice and protection to persons experiencing mistreatment.
On February 13, 2019, a Joint Public Hearing on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace was held in Albany by Members of the New York State Legislature. At the hearing, “[eight] former legislative staffers — seven women and one man — detailed how they were subjected to unwanted misbehavior and how the Assembly’s leadership and its top staff worked to discredit and silence them.” The survivors all spoke of “the consequences of sexual harassment: depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.” According to the Albany Times Union, “[the] atmosphere in the room during the testimony was tense. Some lawmakers…looked stricken. Two female lawmakers openly wept as the survivors spoke.”
Sexual harassment in the workplace—or anywhere else—is unacceptable. As Christians, we believe that women (and men) should never be subjected to degrading or predatory behavior, and that transgressions in this regard should be addressed honestly with an eye toward the protection of those being harassed. Furthermore, no elected official should be permitted to use his or her power or position as a license to harass. It is hoped that last week’s hearing will be a first step toward implementing needed reforms and changing the environment in our halls of government.