This is a very dark and disturbing story.
State Rep. George Wilber, Democrat from the 63rd District in the northwest corner, submitted a letter of resignation and notice of withdrawal from the ballot to Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz today. Wilber, a three-term member of the Assembly, has resigned due to health-related reasons associated with the recent publication of allegations of sexual abuse.
Apparently Rep. Wilber admitted that he paid $100,000 in a settlement to a woman in 2005 who alleged he had sexually abused her between the ages of 11 and 18. Wilber claimed he made the settlement to avoid a stressful and costly court case.
Now, I don't know a single thing about whether he did anything or not, but it sure seems that anyone who pays that kind of money to avoid a criminal trial is probably guilty as hell.
Look at the alleged settlements paid by people like Michael Jackson and Bill O'Reilly in order to avoid criminal proceedings. I'm completely at ease with believing both of these perverts are absolutely guilty of doing things they should be in jail for. So it would be completely disingenuous of me to not feel the same about George Wilber simply because he has a "D" after his name.
He's obviously doing the right thing by resigning. I'm glad he didn't try to hold on and possibly damage the party or cause the alleged victim additional pain. Some people don't realize that they're already dead politically (Ted Stevens, anyone?) and sometimes go out fighting when they're obviously guilty. Wilber's admission of guilt came in the form of a check that he signed to pay off his victim.
There is some talk that Democratic leaders may have been aware of the circumstances of the settlement some years ago. This bears looking into, because if this sort of moral and ethical break was known and not pursued, we might have a situation where some people will need to answer to.
Wilber's seat will go to the Republican challenger. By resigning today, Wilber caused the Democrats to miss the deadline to run a new candidate. It's a shame, but that's not the tragedy here.
The real tragedy is that this alleged abuse ever occurred.