Hamburg, NY - In addition to going into detail about the type of harassment the women were allegedly subjected to, all the notices of claim against former Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak mention one man who worked for the former State Assemblyman. The women say they went to Adam Locher, who either ignored their concerns about Gabryszak's behavior, or told them to find another job.
Locher spoke exclusively with Two On Your Side Monday night. He has a long relationship with Gabryszak.
According to his "Linked In" profile, he worked for the Assemblyman since 2007, most recently as Chief-of-Staff. He was also Gabryszak's assistant when he was Cheektowaga Town Supervisor. Locher has a Master's Degree in political management from The George Washington University. He graduated from Niagara University with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and Government.
Kelly Dudzik sat down with Locher, and his attorney, to ask tough questions about claims that he did nothing to stop the alleged harassment.
Locher brought notes with him, and as you'll see, he frequently refers to them in trying to answer our questions about the Assemblyman, the victims and his role in the scandal.
"What is your present employment situation?" asked Dudzik.
"I am unemployed," said Locher.
"So, you no longer work for the former Assemblyman, you no longer work for the state?" said Dudzik.
"That is correct," said Locher.
"What happened? How were you informed of that?" asked Dudzik.
"Through multiple calls today. Including when I was on the phone with, or when Scott Brown walked into the office. I was advised that with the Assemblyman announcing his retirement, that I am no longer employed by the State of New York," says Locher.
"Do you keep your benefits or your pension or anything that's built up? Because you worked for him for what? Seven years?" says Dudzik.
"At this time, I do not have those answers," says Locher.
"So, you've found yourself in a situation that even a month ago, you wouldn't have thought you would be in," said Dudzik.
"I'm here today with you, Kelly, because I want to work to preserve my good name. I was considered very good at my job and many prior and currently have said that my work did not go unnoticed," says Locher.
"Do you feel at all responsible for the retirement of the Assemblyman?" asked Dudzik.
"One of the main things that I need to do is to clarify that I only became Chief of Staff in July of 2012. I only, I concentrated on my responsibility was to only be here in the Buffalo office, and I went to Albany only on a very limited basis," says Locher.
"So you were not always with the Assemblyman all the time? You didn't always work out of the same office together then?" said Dudzik.
"That's correct," says Locher.
"So if he was in Albany during the session, you might still be here in Buffalo at the Buffalo office?" said Dudzik.
"That is correct," said Locher.
"The accusations go back to prior to 2012, so 2012 is when you became Chief of Staff, correct?" asked Dudzik.
"Yes," said Locher.
"Do you feel that you've had sufficient sexual harassment training as someone who was working for the state and working the State Assemblyman?" asked Dudzik.
"I need to make it very clear, I need to make it very clear that I never received management training on what to do when a member of the staff, either a colleague when I was district office manager, or a subordinate when I was chief of staff came to me with complaints of that nature," said Locher.
"Your name is brought up in a lot of these documents as saying to one of the women, for example here, to just ignore it, that's just the way Dennis is. Is that something that you remember saying?" asked Dudzik.
"I want to make it very clear that when I tried to manage these issues, I never tried to intimidate anyone or cover up any accusations that they may have made," said Locher.
"So, there's another accusation where one of the women alleges that you said, you know, you can go find a job somewhere else," said Dudzik.
"At this time, I cannot speak on individual cases," said Locher.
"We're not going to have him comment on individual cases. He has indicated that the employee handbook that all of the members of the Assembly have, has an intake coordinator for these matters. Mr. Locher has acknowledged that he probably should have reminded everyone of that and pushed people in that direction and that that didn't happen," says Andy Fleming, Locher's attorney.
"What would you say to these women if they were here right now?" asked Dudzik.
"The items that are in the notices of claim are very serious allegations. Having said that, I was not in Albany very often. Many of the allegations, a majority of the allegations made were not, did not take place when I would have been present and or in the vicinity. And, they are serious allegations and I don't, I would never want to have it seem as if I would be taking anything away from their concerns. I have been told that I have a good heart; I believe I have a good heart. And, I've had to acknowledge that I did not advise them to go to an intake coordinator as is laid out in the employee information guide," said Locher.
"I just think it's important for the public to know that Adam, until fairly recently, was a coworker with these people. He was just another staffer," says Fleming.
"It wasn't a supervisor/employee role, right?" asked Dudzik.
"From my analysis, six out of the seven people that made complaints relating to a time where he was their peer. The most recent complainant, he obviously would have been the chief of staff senior to that person, but the remainder of them, he was a peer of theirs," said Fleming. "He's not in a position to say it, but as I said two weeks ago or whatever, there was a lot of give and take between the staffers and the Assemblyman. And Mr. Locher did his best to manage when he was in a position to manage and he's a good man and he did a good job for the state. He looks forward to other positions that he can acquire doing similar work."
"What's next for you?" asked Dudzik.
"Kelly, I want to add that I was usually the one in the office having to say to the group conversations were inappropriate and knock it off. That got me the name the No Fun League," said Locher. "I found myself many times having to be the one to say that, and I believe that is why in those notices of claim that you have in front of you, my participation in any such activity like that was miniscule and shows in those complaints."
"There is not a single complaint that he was sexually harassing anyone. Very important to point that out. He's not the type. Didn't do it. Full denials of any of that, but there hasn't been even an allegation of that," said Fleming. "From a legal perspective, we're looking at whether Mr. Locher has any claims that he might have against the state. I do not believe, nor have any claims made any mention of someone having a claim against Mr. Locher."
"Mr. Brown's insinuations on the 5:00 and 6:00 news, in my estimation, are totally inaccurate. I do not believe that there is any claim that can be made against Mr. Locher from a legal perspective and I feel pretty strongly about that. It made it sound as if there was and there isn't," added Fleming.
"Are you thinking about maybe suing the state for maybe not providing enough information on what to do in these situations?" asked Dudzik.
"No, there isn't really a claim for that. There might be a claim of, as it relates to some of his benefits and some of his prospective compensation, but we know that these staffers serve at the pleasure of the Assemblymen. And, it's pretty hard to get around pleasure of. But there are pay and benefit issues that we'll be addressing, but I feel strongly that there are no claims that could or should be brought against Mr. Locher," says the attorney.
"I was in the office today because it has hit home to me how people may not be represented in that district for a year, and that was the reason that I had the door open today because what if a constituent needed something. What if someone needed help," said Locher. "I was told very early on that I would not more than likely ever be at the top of the page where something would be made against me. I was told that I would be looked to as a witness either it'd be from the ethics committee, which from what I can tell doesn't matter anymore, or through any cases that could be made and that's why I'm not looking to speak on any individual cases at this time."
"I'm glad that they both, because Senator Kennedy represents Cheektowaga and Senator Gallivan represents Lancaster, that they have extended themselves to do that. And I'm available to be a resource," added Locher.