A top lawyer for new state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins — who has vowed to make combating sexual abuse a main priority — recently urged leniency for a sex-harassing former pol.
While her boss has been loudly beating the drum for the #MeToo movement, Susan Grelick, Stewart-Cousins’ personal counsel, asked a federal judge to go easy on admitted harasser and pal ex-Sen. Marc Panepinto (D-Buffalo).
In June, Panepinto copped to making unwanted advances on a staffer and then offering hush money and a job to cover up his bad behavior.
“I quickly came to know him (and his family) as a friend and as an extremely competent professional,’’ Grelick wrote US Magistrate Michael Roehmer in her Sept. 20 letter in support of Panepinto.
“What impressed me the most about Marc was his attention to the problems of those people around him and the encouragement and support Marc consistently provided them.
“Marc is a good man,’’ Grelick said, identifying herself as “counsel’’ to the Senate and adding that she “observed” Panepinto treating everyone in his office with “the utmost respect and dignity.
“The matter to which he had pled guilty has caused the victim, Marc, Marc’s wife and daughters’ unqualified pain. Marc is remorseful for his behavior which resulted in his guilty plea. I wanted to make sure you are aware of these attributes in the hope that you will consider them when making your decision.”
Grelick has been working directly for Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) for several years — including as the anti-sexual-harassment movement has heated up and her boss has taken a leading role in trying to help victims come forward.
The lawyer told The Post she considered her pro-Panepinto letter to the judge “personal,’’ adding that she did not inform Stewart-Cousins she sent it.
Stewart-Cousins declined comment when asked about her legal counsel supporting an admitted sex-harasser in the midst of her own efforts to champion protection for women against such abuse.
But the top state pol did say she herself had no sympathy for Panepinto.
“I am glad that justice was served in this case,’’ Stewart-Cousins said in a statement. “Clearly, there is no place in any work place for Mr. Panepinto’s behavior.”
Panepinto had faced up to a year behind bars and a fine for his crime.
He sought no prison time, but Judge Roemer scoffed, “He should have known better” and slapped him with two months.
At the time, US Attorney James Kennedy said in a statement, “While the defendant’s behavior in the hotel room was bad, his efforts to cover-up that behavior constituted a federal crime.
“In behaving as he did, the defendant not only abused the trust of a young female staffer over whom he held a position of authority, but he also betrayed the trust of those he was elected to serve.”