Hoyt leaves state job during sexual harassment investigation

Hoyt Leaves Job Amid Harassment Investigation

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A statement by Governor Andrew Cuomo's office says Sam Hoyt left his job as a regional president at Empire State Development during a sexual harassment investigation.

Empire State Development made the announcement on Monday that Hoyt was leaving but did not indicate why.

Hoyt has responded to the investigation and issued the following statement through his attorney Terrence M. Connors:

“I have made many mistakes in my life.  Having a short term, consensual and inappropriate relationship with {woman} was wrong and something I regret.  When I attempted to end the relationship, she threatened me. At that point, over a year ago, my wife and I agreed to a settlement to avoid public embarrassment to our family.

Although Hoyt's statement specifically named the complainant, 2 On Your Side has chosen not to publish her name. She has been in contact with our journalists, however, and shared a series of email exchanges that she believed showed an escalation by Hoyt to the point of sexual harassment. 

She also shared a copy of a settlement that she said she signed, which required Hoyt to pay her $50,000 in order to keep the allegations private.

Governor's Press Secretary Dani Lever released the following statement:

"All state employees must act with integrity and respect. When the complainant made these allegations, they were immediately referred to the Governor's Office of Employee Relations for an investigation.  At the same time Mr. Hoyt was instructed to have no further interaction with the complainant and to cooperate fully with the investigation.  Based on interviews and evidence reviewed, GOER identified information that warranted further review by the Inspector General's Office and referred the matter accordingly. The IG conducted its own investigation, during which repeated attempts to interview the complainant were unsuccessful and the matter was referred to JCOPE for investigation.  With the investigation still pending, Mr. Hoyt separated from state service."

Hoyt represented the Buffalo area in the Assembly for almost two decades before taking the job with ESD in 2010.

ESD President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky issued this statement Monday when announcing Hoyt was leaving the ESD:

“Sam's accomplished career in public service dates back 30 years, to his work with Senator Patrick Moynihan in the late 1980s, followed by his service as a legislator and, for the last six years, his hard work at ESD. I've had the pleasure of working with Sam on the Buffalo turnaround, during which he played a key role. Sam loves Buffalo, and Buffalo loves Sam and I'm sure the next chapter in his career will be a very successful one."

On Monday, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul also praised Hoyt's work during media availability in Niagara Falls. 

"The Hoyt family has been contributing to this community for generations, so we wish him well in his journey to the private sector," Hochul said, "and appreciate the great work he's done on behalf of the state."

A spokesperson for Hochul sent 2 On Your Side a statement on Tuesday evening, explaining that the Lt. Gov. had no knowledge of the investigation when she made those comments:

"When answering questions from the media yesterday regarding Mr. Hoyt's departure, the Lieutenant Governor was not aware of the allegations against Mr. Hoyt. New York State does not tolerate sexual harassment in any form. A full investigation is underway, and any wrongdoing will be dealt with accordingly."

Empire State Development did not immediately respond to our requests for comment about Zemsky's previous statement praising Hoyt. 

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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