About 20 people gathered in a silent protest in Downtown Binghamton on Friday afternoon asking for the resignation of State Sen. Fred Akshar (R-Binghamton) in the wake of reports that Akshar had a sexual relationship with the mother of a murder victim while working as a captain in the Broome County Sheriff’s Office in 2015.
The protest, which comes two weeks after the Broome County Democratic Committee called for Akshar’s resignation, was organized by College Democrats of New York, New York Progressive Action Network, Indivisible Binghamton, Binghamton University’s Women’s Student Union and BU’s Latin American Student Union.
Outside of Government Plaza, where Akshar maintains an office in the State Office building, protesters held signs that read “Keep it in your pants, Fred,” “Ethics, morals matter” and “Crime victims matter.”
Lori Wahila, co-leader of Indivisible Binghamton, was the group’s spokesperson during the event and the only person to speak during the silent protest. She said she and other group members were protesting because they believe local elected officials should be held to a higher standard.
“This is the time to let the constituents of Broome County, and all of [Akshar’s] constituents and everybody in Albany, know that we’re concerned with his behaviors and ethics,” Wahila said.
In a Facebook video posted on April 30, Mirella Masciarelli, the mother of the murder victim, described the sexual encounter she had with Akshar and said it was nonconsensual, because she was too drunk to consent. She also said that Akshar was aware of her level of intoxication. According to a press release from College Democrats of New York, the groups that protested on Friday see the situation as a misuse of power.
“Police officers should never seek sexual relations of any sort with suspects, witnesses or victims of cases they are investigating,” the press release read. “The Senator’s decision to do so is a gross abuse of power and authority that renders him unfit to serve as Ranking Minority Member of the Crime Victims Committee, and as a part-time patrolman in Port Dickinson, New York.”
Akshar responded to Masiciarelli’s allegations in a video posted to Facebook on May 5, stating their relationship was consensual and condemning the Broome County Democratic Committee’s call to resign as a politically motivated attack.
Additionally, the press statement accused Akshar of a “pattern of immoral and unethical behavior,” referencing an incident in which Akshar entered a personal relationship with a female employee and more than doubled her salary in a 30-month period.
Wahila also cited Akshar’s investigative business, Akshar Consulting LLC, which he started at the beginning of the year, as a conflict of interest.
“[He has] his own private investigation agency which leaves a lot to be desired,” Wahila said. “When he comes knocking on your door, is he coming as a senator or is he coming as an investigator to investigate his constituents? That’s a little scary.”
Akshar’s office stated it does not “comment on political stunts” when asked for comment on the protest, according to WICZ.