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WNY Assemblywoman facing sanctions

Posted at 5:19 AM, Mar 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 18:16:18-05

The Assembly Speaker is recommending sanctions for a rising conservative star from western New York, following a sexual harassment scandal.

Assemblywoman Angela Wozniak (C) has been accused by her former legislative director, Elias Farah, of coercing him into a sexual relationship while the two worked together in Albany.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie released a letter detailing what punishment he thinks Wozniak should face.

The Assembly Ethics Committee released their findings of the investigation. Investigators aren't sure if it was a "quid pro quo" sexual relationship between the two, or if was a hostile work environment with sexual harassment. They are unsure because of "inconsistencies of both parties".

The letter gives a timeline of how the investigation began.

 

  • July 2, 2015: Allegations come to Assembly Ethics Committee.
  • August 3, 2015: Wozniak notified of investigation.
  • August 28, 2015: Wozniak and attorney sent plan to prevent retaliation. Wozniak could not discuss investigation with anyone but attorney. She also could not use third parties to retaliate against accuser on her behalf.

 

The investigation says according to interviews, the consensual affair between Wozniak and her legislative director began at the start of June 2015. Wozniak ended the affair in late June when she told her husband about what was going on. 

After telling her husband, Wozniak is accused of stopping her legislative director from working in the office when she was there, and not allowing him to attend community meetings when she was present. 

She is also accused of telling one of the legislative director's employment references that he had a poor job performance.

Wozniak's attorney told the press her accuser's name, and made the statement Wozniak would "take action against anyone who defamed her. These statements were made after they recieved the August 28th letter, and the Ethics Committee looks at it as retaliation. 

The Ethics Committee has recommendations going forward, and Assembly Speaker Heastie says he approves everything on it. The list includes: 

  • A letter of admonishment put out publicly by Heastie's office against Wozniak's actions.
  • Wozniak must not publicize details about the case and investigation, unless she is in a courtroom.
  • The legislative director will be paid while the Assembly tries to find him a comparable job. His salary will come from Wozniak's office budget, and the budget will not be increased. 
  • She is prohibited from having any interns.
  • Employees will be independently surveyed about their office environment. 
  • Wozinak must immediately attend sexual harassment and retaliation training classes. 

Wozniak was voted in as the Assemblyperson for the state's 143rd district during the November 2014 election. She replaced Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, who was accused of sexual harassment from multiple female staffer.

After taking her oath of office, Wozniak addressed the Gabryszak scandal and said, "there was a wound in the community and peoples trust was broken. I want to restore the trust in elected officials.

The allegations against Wozniak came to light in September, just about eight months after she was sworn into office.

As part of the investigation, Wozniak's attorney told 7 Eyewitness News that she was asked to turn her computer hard drives and cell phone over to the state for forensic testing.