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Brooklyn DA Calls For Special Prosecutor to Look Into Vito Lopez Scandal

Says past support from disgraced Assemblyman had "potential to create an appearance of impropriety."

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes called for a special prosecutor on Friday to investigate .

The decision came after Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell, a member of the ethics committee looking into the scandal, confirmed that some of the alleged acts by Lopez occurred in Brooklyn. 

"After review with my senior staff I determined that the support of the Kings County Democratic County Committee, led by Assemblyman Lopez, for my re-election campaign in 2009 and my upcoming re-election [in 2013] had the potential to create an appearance of impropriety requiring me to apply for the appointment of another District Attorney to conduct an investigation of the committee’s findings," Hynes said in a statement.

Hynes said he applied for the appointment of a Special District Attorney to look into the matter.

The Brooklyn DA Office's decision to pass on investigating Lopez came as more details emerged in regards to a series of payouts to women he allegedly mistreated.

According to the New York Post, former Lopez chief-of-staff Rita Pasarell and co-plaintiff Leah Hebert had originally sought $1.2 million in attorney fees and damages relating to their sexual harassment claims against Lopez in June.

The pair eventually settled for $135,080—$32,000 of which came out of Lopez's pocket, according to the Post.

Lopez has stuck to his story that no acts of sexual harassment had occurred and that the charges were political in nature.

Meanwhile, the maneuvering to replace Lopez as chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic Party continued mostly behind closed doors.

This week, sources told Patch that support was coalescing around .

However, 50th Assembly District Leader and Reform candidate Lincoln Restler said Friday that Seddio "was not a done deal."

Restler said he hoped that Assemblyman Karim Camara, a Central Brooklyn lawmaker with strong support among progressives, would emerge as an alternative to Seddio.

Update, 4:03 p.m.: 52nd Assembly District Leader Jo Anne Simon praised Hynes' decision to request a special prosecutor to look into allegations regarding Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

"It was just a week ago that the NYS Assembly’s censure of Lopez revealed him to be an out-of-control sexual predator, with a long history of harassing female staffers. Since then new and even more disturbing details have come out about this sordid affair.
 
We need an immediate and full investigation of not just Lopez’ actions, but the actions of those around him who may have aided and abetted the “frat house” atmosphere he created in his publicly-funded Assembly offices in Brooklyn and Albany.
 
Public office isn’t Mr. Lopez’ perverted private playground. He can no longer run and hide, hoping this will 'all blow over.' A special prosecutor must learn the truth about Mr. Lopez’ harassment and other misdeeds and hold him accountable for his wrongdoings."

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