Tom Abinanti of Westchester, NY accused of diminishing date rape

With just days to go before next week’s primary election, a former constituent of Westchester Assemblyman Tom Abinanti is accusing him of diminishing the notion of date rape at a 2018 meeting of local Democrats. 

The six-term legislator faces a tough challenge from county legislator MaryJane Shimsky, whose campaign insists she has nothing to do with a June 16 Medium post where Liv Bespolka makes the allegation while urging voters to toss Abinanti from office. 

“You went on a long tangent denigrating date rape, saying it targeted men, that it was all college aged girls who just regretted their sexual activity and accused their partners of rape. I vividly remember those dismissive air quotes you used while describing ‘date rape,’” Bespolka — who uses they as a personal pronoun — said in the post. 

The alleged comments were especially hurtful to the then-19-year-old Bespolka because of “date rape, stalking, and abuse” Bespoka said they endured while at college the year before.

Official minutes from the Sept. 15, 2018, meeting of the Mt. Pleasant Democratic Committee show Abinanti discussed “his campaign for re-election” with scant detail of his specific comments. No audio or video recording of the meeting exists. 

“I did not make the comments alleged,” Abinanti told The Post.

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Liv Bespolka took offense to the degrading comment allegedly made by Assemblyman Abinanti.
Courtesy of Liv Bespolka

“The false allegation is contrary to who I am as a person, a husband, a father and a public servant. My record of years of public service is clear: I have spent my career championing women’s rights and support for survivors,” he added.

Two leaders of the Mt. Pleasant club, which has endorsed him for re-election, backed his account in separate interviews with The Post. 

“I would have noticed and I know that I did not see or hear anything like that,” committee vice chair Francesca Hagadus-McHale said.

But Bespolka’s mother, Rosamond Kinzler, told The Post she attended the meeting and backed up their account, including the use by Abinanti of air quotes with the phrase “date rape.”  

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Rosamond Kinzler
Rosamond Kinzler backed up the account that Assemblyman Abinanti used air quotes around “date rape.”
Carl Bespolka

Her husband, Carl Bespolka, said he heard about it all after Liv and Rosamond came home from the 2018 meeting while a former co-worker says Liv Bespolka mentioned it in 2020.

Abinanti dismissed the allegation as an “underhanded, sneaky” effort by political opponents supporting Shimsky, but Bespolka said speaking out before election day is about much more than who wins the Democratic primary next Tuesday.

“People who run for office and are in office need to be held accountable for the things they say and recognize that the words they say have an impact beyond maybe what they understand and be ready for the consequences of those things,” Bespolka said.

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