March 13, 2023 By Julia Moro
While Queens Assemblyman Juan Ardila acknowledged and apologized for sexually assaulting two women at a party in 2015, one of his alleged victims now demands that he step down.
“I am calling for Juan Ardila to resign as an Assembly member and would like to see the organizations and elected officials who have publicly supported Juan retract their support,” the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Queens Post Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, some elected officials and community leaders called for an investigation into Ardila, while others demanded his resignation and asked those who previously endorsed him to withdraw their support.
These announcements come just hours after news broke that Ardila allegedly sexually assaulted two women at a party in Manhattan in October 2015 held by Fordham University students. 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.
Among those who endorsed Ardila during his campaign last year were Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez; Comptroller Brad Lander; Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; Queens Borough President Donovan Richards; state Senators Michael Gianaris and Jessica Ramos; Council member Tiffany Cabán, the Working Families Party and many others.
Councilman Robert Holden, a former opponent of Ardila’s when campaigning for City Council in 2021, was the first elected leader to come out today to demand his resignation. He also called on those who had endorsed him to retract them.
“Juan Ardila’s record of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, antisemitism, reckless driving, and now sexual assault has disqualified him from office,” Holden said in a statement. “His actions are reprehensible and unacceptable, and they should be disavowed at all costs by elected officials, like [Queens Borough President] Donovan Richards, unions, and other groups. Sexual assault must never be tolerated.”
Richards responded, saying the allegations against Ardila are “deeply troubling and require a full and thorough investigation.”
“If these disturbing accusations against him are found to be true, Assemblymember Ardila should resign,” Richards said in a statement to Queens Post. “Trust in government cannot be possible without accountability from all who have been elected to lead our communities.”
A spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told Queens Post the congresswoman believes Ardila should step down.
“We will be withdrawing his Courage to Change PAC endorsement, which was issued for his 2022 campaign,” the spokesperson said.
Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5, said anyone facing allegations like this should be held accountable.
“In any situation like this, the person being accused needs to have their case heard, but if there’s good evidence that this occurred, then that person should resign or be removed,” Giordano told Queens Post.
Twitter users spoke out upon learning of the accusations lodged against Ardila, with one user calling out City Comptroller Brad Lander for remaining silent. Ardila worked as a staffer under Lander during his time as a City Councilman in Brooklyn.
“Does @NYCComptroller @bradlander stand with his former staffer and mentee @JuanArdilaNYS, who admitted to sexual assault? His silence suggests so,” the tweet read.
Another tweeted, “If this supposedly happened way back in 2015, why are they speaking up now?? Maybe if they spoke up during his campaigns they could have stopped a sexual predator from being elected.”
Holden said this is not the first time Ardila has made shocking headlines. During his campaign against Holden in 2021, old Facebook posts using offensive language surfaced.
“Elected officials who hold such views and engage in such behavior do not deserve to represent the people in government,” Holden said. “We must hold our elected officials to the highest standards of integrity and morality, and Assembly Member Ardila, and all those who supported him and knew about these issues, have fallen far short of those standards.”
Ardila issued an apology Monday night but did not respond to Queens Post’s request for an interview.
“I apologize for my behavior,” Ardila said in his statement. “I have spent time reflecting and I hope to prove that I have matured since college. I’m committed to learning from this and I am able to demonstrate my own personal growth.”