June 6, 2023 By Julia Moro
Days after Queens Community Board 2 dealt Assemblyman Juan Ardila another political blow by passing a “no confidence” resolution, Ardila released the results of an “independent” investigation that looked into the two allegations of sexual assault which surfaced earlier this year.
Ardila was accused of sexually assaulting two women at a 2015 party attended by Fordham University students and alum. The investigation by the Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney law firm, which interviewed 12 witnesses, seemed to favor Ardila’s stance, concluding there was no sexual contact detailed in any allegations.
Ardila previously said he had waited to comment on the matter until that investigation was completed.
“… Allegations do not include any accusations of kissing or touching of intimate body parts,” read the report. “Instead, there is a general allegation of extensive touching. It can also be concluded from this article that [redacted] does not have a clear memory of the October 2015 party or her interaction with Mr. Ardila.”
On March 13, 2023, the Queens Chronicle first released an article detailing the allegations. According to the first accuser, Ardila “got handsy” while she was intoxicated and “proceeded to lead her down a hallway, she said, at which point her friend intervened.”
The accusers’ names as well as the witnesses’ were redacted from the law firm’s report to maintain their privacy. The firm was unable to verify the accuracy of the second accuser’s statements since she did not relay her story to reporters firsthand.
“Regarding the second accuser … it can be concluded that she did not speak with reporters … her story was relayed second hand. It is impossible to assess the veracity of [redacted’s] account without her input,” read the report.
The second accuser’s report was relayed through the first accuser. She had said that she was pulled into a bathroom when Ardila started kissing her.
“When she realized what was happening, she pulled away and saw Ardila had exposed himself and was touching himself,” read the message.
Ardila originally offered an apology for his behavior once these allegations surfaced.
“I apologize for my behavior,” Ardila said in a March 14 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.”
Now, Ardila is backtracking this apology, saying he was “stunned” by the allegations.
Ardila said in his June 5 statement that his colleagues originally urged him not to flat-out deny the accusations, since that “was akin to attacking women.” Ardila said he was urged to recognize the harm he caused but was still called to resign by his former political allies shortly after.
“I should have unequivocally denied the allegations in my initial statement,” Ardila said. “My not doing so resulted in several individuals falsely claiming that I admitted to sexual misconduct. This led to calls for my resignation from colleagues, the governor and others.”
Ardila now denies the allegations, admits to consensually kissing two women at separate times of the night and apologizes for his “immature and regrettable” actions.
“I acknowledge the weight of my actions and the responsibility to continually learn and improve,” Ardila’s June 5 statement read. “I also know that I am not the same person I was nearly a decade ago and I did not engage in sexual assault in a crowded living room or anywhere else.”
Ardila told Queens Post that he was surprised and disappointed that his friends, colleagues and mentors were uninterested in hearing his explanation.
“[They] were uninterested in hearing me explain what had happened or even just ignored my requests to talk all together. I was already guilty in their minds,” Ardila told Queens Post. “In the absence of firmly denying the allegations in my original statement, the majority of those who called on me to resign falsely claimed that I admitted to it.”
Councilwoman Julie Won released a statement sharing her disgust with Ardila.
“Juan’s recent comments and his self-funded ‘independent report’ continue to demonstrate his utter lack of remorse and his pathological hatred towards women,” Won’s statement read. “Juan paid a high-powered law firm to intimidate and silence his victims, under the pretense of this ‘independent report.'”
Ardila told Queens Post that he is committed to regaining the trust of his constituents who call his reputation into question.