Bronx Democratic Sen. Luis Sepulveda lost his committee chairmanship and was stripped of his committee assignments after he turned himself in to police amid a domestic abuse allegation. Sepulveda was arrested and charged on Tuesday.
According to the New York Police Department, Sepulveda is being charged with criminal obstruction of breathing, which is a misdemeanor.
Sepulveda had chaired the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee. He was first elected to chamber in April 2018 and had previously served in the state Assembly.
“We learned of this disturbing incident this morning I am immediately removing Senator Sepulveda as chair of his committee and from all his committee assignments," Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. "I take these allegations extremely seriously and will be monitoring this situation closely.”
Police responded to a 911 call from his residence over the weekend, and both Sepulveda and his wife claimed “the other party assaulted them.” This investigation is still ongoing, police said in a statement.
Sepulveda’s attorney says these are false accusations, made by his “estranged spouse” and that the senator has been a victim of reoccurring physical violence.
“This false accusation is a calculated attempt by a disgruntled party to leverage a divorce settlement from a case she filed in Florida this past November,” wrote Sepulveda’s attorney, Marvin Ray Raskin. “All allegations must be taken seriously and investigated to the full extent of the law, which is why the senator is committed to and will proactively provide full transparency as this matter is resolved. The issues raised must see the full light of day and we are confident that when the true history of the relationship is understood, the facts that present themselves will clear his name.”
Republican Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt called on Sepulveda to resign if the allegation proves true.
"As chair of the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee, Senator Sepulveda has an obligation to protect vulnerable individuals," he said.
"Instead, he has advanced harmful policies that have made it more difficult for our law enforcement officials to do their jobs, and made our communities less safe. As an alleged abuser himself, he has no right leading that committee, and these allegations must be promptly investigated. If these allegations are true, he should resign immediately," Ortt said.
Late on the day Tuesday, Democratic state Senator Alessandra Biaggi also joined in on the calls for Sepulveda to resign if these domestic violence allegations are proven to be true.
“An elected official who engages in any act of violence or abuse betrays that privileged trust and is no longer fit to serve the public,” Biaggi said. “The Bronx deserves leaders who embody the highest levels of integrity, and there must be zero tolerance for violence or abuse of any kind. If this allegation is true, Senator Sepulveda must resign immediately.”
This is not the first alleged incident between Sepulveda and his wife.
In 2015, Sepulveda’s estranged wife sought an order of protection from him after a heated argument, according to the New York Daily News.