Katha Pollitt’s contention that New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver made rape charges against a senior staff member “go away” is untrue [“Subject to Debate,” May 4]. When an Assembly staffer came to the Assembly in 2001 with allegations that she had been the victim of a sexual assault by a senior staff member, we urged her to file a criminal complaint with the Albany Police Department or the Albany County district attorney. She declined to bring her complaint to law enforcement, and therefore charges were never filed.
Speaker Silver is dedicated to ensuring that every woman in this state feels safe, and he has devoted much of his career to protecting the rights of victims of sexual abuse, strengthening laws against rape and sexual violence, and providing resources for the treatment of survivors.
DAN WEILLER, press secretary to the Speaker
New York State Assembly
New York City
I wrote that Sheldon Silver made rape charges against Michael Boxley go away “according to the alleged victim,” Elizabeth Crothers. That is indeed what she said. Dan Weiller makes it sound as if Crothers’s choice not to go to the police tied Silver’s hands, but in fact her remarks were about Silver’s role in the Assembly’s internal investigation. According to the New York Times, a lawsuit filed by Boxley’s second victim, “Jane Doe,” asserts that Crothers asked Silver to appoint an independent investigator to look into the case; Silver declined. Instead he assigned the case to a lawyer who was subordinate to Boxley, interrupted that lawyer’s interview with Crothers several times by phone and, before the investigation was concluded, released a public statement expressing his “utmost personal confidence in Boxley.” (The investigation was inconclusive, and Boxley stayed on Silver’s staff until led away in handcuffs after the second rape charge.) Also according to the Times, “In 2006, Mr. Silver and the Assembly leadership agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by Jane Doe accusing Mr. Silver of failing to properly investigate the Crothers case and of tolerating a culture of sexual harassment in the Assembly.”