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Senate IDC Leader Klein denies sexual assault allegation

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  • Senate IDC Leader Klein denies sexual assault allegation


    ALBANY — State Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, on Wednesday denied a former female staffer's allegation that he forcibly kissed her outside a Lark Street bar in 2015.
    Klein's hastily called news conference took place just before the Huffington Post published a story detailing the accusations by 30-year-old Erica Vladimer.
    The Times Union was made aware of the allegations in November but at the time was not able to confirm the identity of the senator accused of misconduct.
    On an afternoon conference call with fellow IDC Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, Klein told reporters — without identifying Vladimer by name — that they were smoking outside Justin's, which is now Savoy Taproom, on the night of March 31, 2015, following passage of the state budget. According to Klein, the woman has said that he forcibly kissed her while they were outside.
    Klein said that he spoke to the woman twice that night, once inside the bar and again when they smoked outside. Both times she invited him to celebrate Passover with her family, which Klein declined, he said, adding they did not have physical contact.
    He said that after finishing his cigarette, he remained at the bar for another half hour before leaving.
    "Nobody there that night saw anything inappropriate happen because nothing did," he said. "Those are the facts. I just want to make it very clear to everyone that I have nothing to hide and welcome any investigation into the facts of this matter."

    Vladimer told the Huffington Post that Klein grabbed her head and pulled her toward him while they were standing outside.



    “All of a sudden there was a hand on the back of my head and he shoved his tongue down my throat,” she told the website. “In my head it lasted forever, I don’t think it lasted even three seconds.”

    Vladimer said she went back inside the bar and was very concerned that Savino, who has dated Klein, may have seen what allegedly happened, she told the Huffington Post. She then left the bar.


    Klein and Savino, who were dating at the time of the alleged incident, said the woman never filed a claim regarding the allegation. Klein said he heard a rumor the following day about the allegation, but his immediate reaction was to say the incident did not occur and he did not follow up "because it did not appear to require any further action on my part."
    Klein said he hired an attorney who conducted interviews about the incident as part of his own investigation. The findings of that internal investigation were released following the call.
    "This incident never occurred," Savino said, charging that the large window at the front of the bar, which is below ground level, allows bar patrons to see outside. "And to insinuate that it would have occurred in front of me — and those of you who know me know I would not have remained silent, there would have been an incident that night had this occurred in full view of myself."
    Klein said he will remain leader of the eight-member IDC, which has a majority coalition with Senate Republicans.
    The senators said Vladimer, whom they did not name, worked for the IDC for two years. Klein said he had little contact with her and she later for another job about a month after the outing at the Lark Street bar. Savino said she first learned of the incident last week, when a Huffington Post reporter reached out to her and IDC spokeswoman Candice Giove about the allegation.
    Klein said he has not previously faced allegations of inappropriate behavior.



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