A Democratic Queens legislator admitted Tuesday to sexually harassing a female City Council staffer for over a year — giving her so many unwelcome hugs and kisses that she avoided meetings with him.
Councilman Barry Grodenchik agreed to undergo sexual harassment training at his own expense and give up his chairmanship of the Parks and Recreation Committee.
“I understand that my actions caused the council staff member to suffer embarrassment, stress and discomfort, and emotional distress,” Grodenchik said with his head down.
He zipped through his prepared statement, only looking up at the assembled members of the Council’s Committee on Standards and Ethics when he finished.
“I am deeply sorry for my conduct and for any harm suffered by the council staff member as a result of my conduct,” he said.
Grodenchik hustled out of the hearing room past waiting reporters as soon as he finished.
The 59-year-old Democrat, who was first elected to serve northeastern Queens in 2015, waived a full hearing on the allegations by admitting to “discrimination and harassment of [an unnamed] female staffer,” according to ethics committee chair Steven Matteo (R-SI).
“Council member Grodenchik has fully admitted to paying unwelcome and inappropriate attention to a female staffer because of her gender,” Matteo said.
Matteo said Grodenchik also blew the woman a kiss during a professional meeting and hugged and kissed her “in a way that caused her embarrassment and left her to avoid attending meetings and council business conducted at City Hall.”
“He has expressed remorse for causing the staffer harm because of her gender and a desire to change his behavior,” Matteo said.
A lawyer hired by the council to investigate the claims found the woman’s claims to be credible, according to Matteo.
“The case against Council member Grodenchik is strong and the violations of council policies are serious,” Matteo said.
Grodenchik initially used the Joe Biden defense, saying last month it was not his “intention to make any person feel uncomfortable.”
He was forced to walk back that excuse Tuesday.
“My public statement of April 4, 2019 — which was made prior to my having reviewed or been made aware of the full charges — did not fully or accurately reflect my conduct,” he admitted to the ethics committee.
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