One can debate the justice, or the lack thereof, of the rapid fade of Mayoral candidate Scott Stringer, based upon allegations that, 20 years ago, he engaged in acts which, if proven, would constitute the crime of “forcible touching,” a Class-A misdemeanor, which would carry a penalty of up to a year in prison, if the statute of limitations hadn’t run, and if Stringer committed the crime in a jurisdiction (alert: sarcasm ahead) still carceral enough, in the age of Larry Krasner and Chesa Boudin, to prosecute misdemeanors.
The long version of lobbyist/comedian Jean Kim’s Stringer story has elements that ring true as a bell (that Scott would unpleasantly confront someone at a party for supporting a candidate other than himself—this is clearly the Scott I’ve known for nearly four decades) and others which ring far less so (for starters, that the traumatized victim of persistent unwanted groping by a politician, would, a dozen years later, contact his campaign to give him the right of first refusal to her political services).
Among themselves, the consensus of most members of the political class I’ve talked to, including folks who hate Stringer like poison and were elated by his fall, or who are ardent feminists (and some who fit both categories), is that Ms. Kim’s story has some credibility issues, although that is often true of the truth. However, the ham-fisted attempt by Stringer’s campaign to discredit Ms. Kim because she carried an omnibus petition for a friend running for Democratic District Leader which contained a different mayoral candidate has not helped Stringer’s cause, but, there are also doubts that, in the current climate, anything would.
Rampant hypocrisy awards, for situational advocacy of due process, would seem merited for not only for Stringer, based upon his past statements calling for the resignation of Governor Cuomo based purely on unadjudicated allegations, but also for his rival, Maya Wiley, who, discussing Tara Reade’s allegations against Joe Biden, said “Accepting the allegation and investigating it is what we mean when we say believe all women. Corroboration is key here…believing women doesn’t mean we don’t also ask for further information, context and clarification,” recommending “assessing the accused’s credibility and response to the allegation in comparison to the credibility of the accuser and supporting evidence.” Conveniently, Wiley does not extend Stringer the same courtesy.
But Wiley and Stringer are surely not the only hypocrites in the room regarding sexual harassment and violence against women, they must forgo this top prize to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who spoketh thus:
“Women must be heard. These are deeply troubling allegations of assault and I take them seriously…We must ensure that anyone who believes they were harassed, assaulted or treated in an unacceptable manner can come forward safely and be heard.”
This is in rather sharp contrast to Adams’’ response when his friend, Hiram Monsrerrate, was arrested for slicing his girlfriend’s face with a piece of glass. As Liz Benjamin reported at the time:
Sen. Eric Adams, who, like Senator-elect Hiram Monserrate is a former NYPD officer, is the first Senate Democrat to release a formal statement expressing support for his soon-to-be legislative colleague and also raises questions about the “unusual handling” of Monserrate’s assault case.
And, in his standard style, the Brooklyn senator pulls no punches, basically accusing the NYPD of wanting to get back at Monserrate because he has been an “outspoken advocate of police reform.”
“As a former NYPD Captain, I have some serious concerns regarding the unusual handling of the case against Councilman Monserrate,” Adams said. “The primary goal of investigating a complaint of domestic violence is to ensure the safety of the innocent victim.”
“However, the police department and the DA appear to have ignored Ms. Giraldo’s repeated insistence that the injury she sustained was the result of an accident, a fact that has been publicly supported by Ms. Giraldo’s family in interviews with the press.”
“Second, the department departed from standard operating procedures by requiring a public ‘perp walk’ past TV cameras, rather than following the normal routine of taking someone out the back door through the precinct’s private lot. A ‘perp walk’ is used when the NYPD wants to expose a suspect to public view.”
“These questions raise serious doubts regarding the motivating factor behind the arrest and charges against Councilman Monserrate. Specifically, these facts suggest that the Police Department’s priority is to publicly humiliate the accused rather than following the evidence.”
“It is well known that Councilman Monserrate has been an outspoken advocate for police reform. I believe his role as an agent for change cause him to be denied his rights and a thorough investigation.”
Adams later voted against Monserrate’s expulsion from the State Senate. As reported by Liz Benjamin, Adams explained his vote against expulsion by saying he just wanted to hang Adams from a different tree, specifically, an alternative expulsion resolution sponsored by Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson, that gave Monserrate time to appeal his conviction.
“I was a strong proponent of this second resolution: it would have expelled Senator Monserrate had he lost his appeals, and I supported this expulsion,..However, Senator Foley’s resolution [for immediate expulsion] was introduced first, and its passage rendered moot Senator Sampson’s resolution…My vote against Senator Foley’s resolution should not be construed as one in opposition to expulsion,..Rather, it was a good faith attempt to avoid a judicial merry-go-round, with its interim injunctions and lawsuits…How foolish would we appear were the courts to overturn Senator Monserrate’s conviction after we had already expelled him!…Last, and just as important: To suggest that my vote denigrates women is wrong-headed, and while I understand fully the sincere emotions attached to this matter, I reject as ill-considered, if not reckless, any suggestion that my respect for the rights of women is deficient. I decry all domestic violence behavior; to condone violence against women would violate all standards of decency, run counter to my commitment to end domestic violence, and violate my core values!”
So, Eric Adams would have us believe that he was so shocked by Monserrate’s conduct that he supported expelling Monserrate from the Senate. The record tells a somewhat different story.
As has been reported, even after the release of the violent video of Monserrate and Giraldo in the hallway of their building, Adams, in a gesture of solidarity with Monserrate, who he’d previously described as a victim of a police conspiracy, sat and watched the trial together with Ruben Diaz, and was even there to support Monserrate at the verdict, well after that video had been shown to the jury.
In addition to begging the question how this all squares with Adams’ purported concern for victims of domestic violence, it raises a more fundamental question about Adams’ sincerity.
Adams sat through the trial, rooting for Monserrate’s acquittal, even after seeing all the evidence, but later said that the same evidence justified Monserrate’s exclusion.
I might give Adams the benefit of the doubt, and allow that he was persuaded by the additional evidence in the State Senate’s Report on the matter (authored by Eric Schneiderman, a recognized expert in the abuse of women by men in politics) if it was not crystal clear from Adams’ statements that he either had not read the report, or was choosing to blithely ignore its contents.
“How foolish would we appear” says Adams, “were the courts to overturn Senator Monserrate’s conviction after we had already expelled him!…”
Well, that argument might have had some cogence, if it were not so clear that what motivated the Special Committee was not Monserrate’s conviction, but his behavior, including his repugnant, but not criminal, act of letting Ms. Giraldo bleed out of an open wound for 40 minutes rather than to call an ambulance or take her to any hospital where he might be recognized.
During Monserrate’s expulsion process, Adams tried to convey to local progressives how repulsed he was by Monserrate’s action, but the facts tell a different story.
Adams was there in 2016 when Monserrate married got married, a few months after Monserrate got out of federal prison for a non-DV related conviction. In 2018, Adams attended a birthday party for Monserrate, posing for photos and making remarks in front of Monserrate campaign signs. In 2019, Monserrate presented Adams with a sash recognizing him as the “Padrino De Honor” at an Ecuadorian cultural event. Top of Form
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It should be noted that the Monserrate incidents are not the only ones which call into question Adams’ commitments to the rights of women to be free from assault and abuse. In 1995 Adams traveled to Indiana to escort convicted rapist Mike Tyson home from federal prison.
Those with long memories may also remember the downfall of former Governor David Paterson, who, amongst other things, tried to intervene with the former girlfriend of a top aide, David Johnson, to convince her not to press assault charges against Mr.Johnson. Sherr-una Booker, Mr. Johnson’s former girlfriend, said that during an altercation on Oct. 31, 2009, Mr. Johnson tore off her Halloween costume, choked her and shoved her into a mirrored dresser.
Subsequently, the bad publicity, including a series in the NY Times, forced Paterson to fire Johnson, and Johnson, charged with assault, eventually copped a plea to harassing his ex.
Johnson now works as top aide to Adams, saying he is “a strong proponent of the power of second chances.”
According to the Daily News, during his time with Adams, Johnson distinguished himself by being mentioned in the a federal lawsuit filed by a disabled woman who claimed that that Johnson and another city worker ordered her to move her car from a parking space reserved for employees for the Borough President. The woman said her handicapped permit legally entitled her to park there, but that at Johnson’s instigation, the City Worker intervened and eventually slapped her in handcuffs and had her thrown in jail.
To be fair, however, there is one incident in Adams’ past which does show his concern for an alleged female victim of a violent sexual assault. In 1998, the Daily News reported
“Black law enforcement officials said yesterday that they will seek a federal investigation of the handling of the 1987 Tawana Brawley case. Eric Adams, a New York City police sergeant who heads a group called 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, said the testimony of several Dutchess County prosecutors in the ongoing slander trial of three Brawley advisers had convinced his group that officials did not properly investigate Brawley’s charges of being raped by a gang of white men a decade ago. Adams said the group would ask Attorney General Janet Reno to open a criminal investigation. “The hoax was not Tawana Brawley’s statements. The hoax is what has taken place during this investigation,” Adams said.”
Full disclosure. I was the ballot access counsel for Mayoral candidate Shaun Donovan earlier this year, and also served as NYS ballot access election mayoral candidate Andrew Yang’s 2020 Presidential campaign.
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