Freshman Assemblyman Juan Ardila, who represents western Queens, faced political fallout Tuesday after being accused of sexual assault by two women—allegations that the lawmaker did not refute when asked for comment.
Ardila, who first took office in January after winning a vacant 37th District assembly seat last year, allegedly targeted two women at a party in October 2015. The party took place inside a Manhattan apartment and was attended by Fordham University students and alumni.
One of the victims, who reached out to Queens Post and requested anonymity, said that Ardila “got physical” with her – and was “touching her” — while she was drunk on a couch at the party. The woman, who was 21 at the time, said Ardila then tried to drag her into the bathroom before a friend intervened.
Meanwhile, another woman that night provided a statement saying that Ardila pulled her into the bathroom a short time later, before exposing himself and then groping her. The woman allegedly then ran out of the bathroom.
The women were both seniors at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus at the time of the party. Ardila had graduated from the university in the spring and had just started working for Brad Lander, who was a councilmember at the time. Neither woman had ever spoken to Ardila prior to the night of the party.
Ardila, who was endorsed by progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and State Sen. Jessica Ramos in his race last year, issued a statement late last night expressing regret for his actions. The statement came shortly after he told the Queens Chronicle that he had no knowledge of the alleged incidents.
“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.”
But the victim who contacted Queens Post wasn’t buying Ardila’s statement after it was read to her.
“I find Juan’s statement to be deeply troubling and dismissive of the harm he has caused me and others. His apology—which comes on the heels of his initial denial—rings insincere,” she said. “He blames the assault on youthful indiscretion during college (although he had graduated at the time of the incident) and I find this both dismissive and insulting. Sexual assault is a serious crime, and it is not something that can be excused or explained away by age or circumstances.”
The woman, who moved to Long Island City last month, said that she only decided to go public with her ordeal when she discovered that Ardila was an assemblymember—and the one who represented her area.
“The public deserves to know about his past,” she said, noting that she has reached out to several local news outlets about the incident.
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.
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 one day after news broke that Ardila allegedly sexually assaulted two women at a Manhattan party held by Fordham University students nearly eight years ago. 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.