Michael Weinstock, a former sex crimes prosecutor who is challenging Tom Suozzi for Congress, held a press conference on Monday, announcing that he filed a filed a sexual harassment complaint against Gerard Terry, the former Nassau County Democratic party boss and longtime Suozzi ally.
Weinstock was an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn’s Special Victim’s Bureau. And before that, he was a volunteer firefighter. If elected, he will become the first 9/11 rescue worker elected to Congress. He is a resident of Great Neck and was a volunteer firefighter with the Vigilant Fire Company.
The press conference was held outside the Nassau County Supreme Court. Weinstock discussed the criminal complaint, which was filed with the state Attorney General’s Office. He is running for New York’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes sections of Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
Weinstock, who is gay, said Terry, the longtime Chairman of the North Hempstead Democratic Party and head of Nassau County Board of Elections, pressured him and other young men for sex in exchange for jobs and preferential treatment. He said many people in Terry’s orbit knew of the sexual coercion but did not do anything to stop it. Terry was a powerful county leader until he was convicted in 2018 of tax evasion and tax fraud.
“Despite being married and having kids my age, he was offering me my dream job—but only if I agreed to have sex with him,” Weinstock explained. “This was the first of many, extremely creepy and upsetting encounters I had with the chairman.”
“No young person should have to choose between their career and sex with a sexual predator,” Weinstock added. He said he was “blackballed” by the Nassau County Democratic Party after he refused Terry’s advances.
Although Weinstock admitted that he was “extremely uncomfortable” discussing the crimes publicly, he said that he was inspired by several prominent women who have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and abuse by powerful men.
Men who are victims of sex crimes face a terrible stigma, explained Weinstock. “I was passionate about putting sex criminals in prison when I was a prosecutor and I can’t sit on my hands and pretend it didn’t happen.” He prosecuted hundreds of sex crimes defendants when he was an assistant district attorney and most cases involved women, while some involved men,” he said. “Lots of women testified. But zero men did. It was heartbreaking.”
In 2018, the former chairman was convicted of felony tax evasion, for failing to pay his taxes for fifteen years. To the surprise of many, Congressman Suozzi wrote a personal letter to the federal judge and successfully persuaded the court to shorten the term of imprisonment. Artie McConnell, the Assistant United States Attorney who prosecuted the case balked and told the judge that Suozzi’s involvement demonstrates that “the political class on Long Island takes care of itself.”
Weinstock said that Suozzi’s support for the disgraced chairman helped motivate him to challenge the sitting Congressman. “I was thunderstruck when Congressman Suozzi decided to pull strings and get his friend released from jail,” he explained.
“I want to be a new voice and a fresh voice, and I want to work hard and earn the respect of New Yorkers so they’ll look up to our elected officials.”