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Taxpayers to pay to defend sex harass lawsuits

ALBANY — New York taxpayers are expected to pick up the bill in civil lawsuits aimed at the state Assembly and Speaker Sheldon Silver over a $103,000 secret settlement of sexual harassment claims.

Under New York law, the state defends elected officials who acted in their official capacity.

That’s expected to include lawsuits already filed involving the sexual harassment claims against former Assemblyman Vito Lopez of Brooklyn. He’s accused by several women staffers of intimidation and unwanted advances.

Last year, Silver crafted a settlement using $103,000 in public money to end the first claims against Lopez. After the second set of claims was made, Silver censured Lopez and took away his perks of seniority.

Lopez resigned as Silver sought to oust him from office.

Silver has said he made mistakes and is seeking reforms.