March 17, 2023 By Julia Moro
During a press conference on Thursday, March 16, Gov. Kathy Hochul called for Assemblymember Juan Ardila to resign, days after two women accused him of sexual misconduct at a 2015 party.
“I condemn all forms of sexual assault. It is intolerable and unacceptable what he did,” Hochul said Thursday during an unrelated press conference. “I support the survivors and their call for accountability and yes, he should resign.”
News broke Monday that Ardila allegedly sexually assaulted two women at a Manhattan party held by Fordham University students nearly eight years ago. One victim said he inappropriately touched her and tried to lead her into the bathroom before a friend intervened, while another said he groped her. Both requested to be anonymous.
Ardila, who issued an apology following the allegations, was elected last year to represent the 37th assembly district covering western Queens, taking over a seat that was left vacant by Cathy Nolan.
Ardila has received harsh criticism from colleagues at every level of government, with several elected officials calling for his resignation.
Councilman Robert Holden, a former opponent of Ardila’s when campaigning for City Council in 2021, was the first elected leader to demand his resignation, with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez following suit.
On Tuesday, Queens Borough Donovan Richards told the Queens Post that the allegations against Ardila are “deeply troubling and require a full and thorough investigation.”
On Wednesday, Senator Kristen Gonzalez, Senator Julia Salazar, Senator Mike Gianaris, Assembly member Zohran Mamdani, City Council member Julie Won, State Committee member and District Leader Émilia Decaudin, and State Committee member & District Leader Nicholas Berkowitz issued a joint statement calling on Ardila to resign.
City Comptroller Brad Lander also released a statement Wednesday, saying, “there can be no tolerance for sexual assault.”
Ardila worked as a staffer under Lander when he was a City Councilman in Brooklyn.
Later in the week, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez said the allegations are “deeply disturbing.”
“The actions that the Assembly member has admitted to are unjustifiable and unacceptable,” Velázquez said in a statement Thursday. “ I support the survivors and join their calls for his prompt resignation from the Assembly.”
Council members Tiffany Cabán and Jen Gutiérrez released a joint statement criticizing Ardila, who initially excused his behavior due to youthful indiscretion. They joined the calls for his resignation.
“The fact that it wasn’t until his third statement that he began to take responsibility makes it hard to believe that he is sincerely ready for and committed to that hard work,” their statement read. “Until he is, we believe he should resign his seat and take a step back from public service.”
Assembly member Jessica González-Rojas came out with a statement Friday morning after taking time to “process the information” that came to light.
“As someone who has shared my own experience of sexual violence, this has had a serious impact on me and triggered a lot of traumatic material that I have worked to address,” González-Rojas said. “I am uncertain he can fulfill his obligation to his constituents given the violations he has engaged in and the trust he has lost from the community that supported him.”
González-Rojas called on Ardila to resign.
Meanwhile, a petition was launched this week in which District 37 residents are calling for Ardila’s resignation.
“We as residents and voters of Assembly District 37 call on Juan Ardila to resign immediately from the New York State Assembly to begin holding himself accountable for his actions,” the petition read. “His resignation would be the first step of demonstrating commitment to the long-term atonement and repair for restorative justice.”