Assemblymember Juan Ardila (D-Maspeth) has been accused of allegedly sexually assaulting two women on the same night in 2015.

One of the victims, who requested anonymity, alleges that Ardila “got handsy” with her on the couch at a small party of Fordham University students and alumni in October 2015 while she was intoxicated. He then proceeded to lead her down a hallway, she said, at which point her friend intervened. 

The same woman relayed to the Chronicle a message from a second woman detailing her alleged encounter with Ardila the same night; the account was written with the intention that it would be shared with a journalist. The second woman said Ardila pulled her into a bathroom and started kissing her. When she realized what was happening, she pulled away and saw Ardila had exposed himself and was touching himself. She immediately ran out of the room.

Only later did the two women find out what had happened to the other.

When first contacted about the allegations on Monday, Ardila said, “I don’t even know what this is.”

That evening, however, several hours after the Chronicle broke the story, Ardila's chief of staff sent a formal statement to the paper. 

"I apologize for my behavior," the statement reads. "I have spent time reflecting and I hope to prove I have matured since college. I'm committed to learning from this and I am able to demonstrate my own personal growth."

It was not until last week that the first victim learned Ardila had been elected to the state Assembly in November. Having just moved to Long Island City less than a month ago, the woman, who is not politically active herself, did not know he is an elected official in a neighboring district.

She said she discovered an old, unopened Facebook message from Ardila, who was a year ahead of her at Fordham, last week.

“Hey what’s up? Had a good night the other night,” read his message, which was shared with the Chronicle Friday. “Wanna meet up some time?”

The message was sent the day after the alleged incidents. Reading it prompted the woman to Google Ardila and see what had become of him.

The 29-year-old progressive lawmaker began his first term in Albany this January. After a failed bid for the City Council in 2021, he found himself at the top of a crowded Democratic race for Assembly District 37 last year as longtime Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan announced her retirement.

But the message the victim received the day after the alleged events was not the final one she received from Ardila. In January 2018, he sent her a direct message on Instagram. That one she read and responded to at the time.

“Hey ... I hope all is well,” he said, using her name, says a screenshot of the exchange, also shared with the Chronicle. “We met a while ago at a Fordham party. Needless to say I was a jerk (to say the least) and I wanted to reach out and apologize for that night. Anyways I hope all is well and that you enjoyed the holidays. I wish you a very happy and healthy new year!”

“Thanks Juan,” she responded. “That means a lot. Happy New Year!”

“Of course and sorry for the randomness,” he replied.

“How’s everything going,” he said in a subsequent message.

“LMAO you should have just stopped with your ‘apology,’” she answered.

Asked about the message with his apology, Ardila said, “Definitely no comment.”

The second victim did not receive an apology from Ardila, though he sent her a friend request on Snapchat a few years ago.

The first woman sought out local media online after learning that Ardila holds public office.

“I think as women, we’ve all had experiences that we suppress — this certainly isn’t my only one,” she told the Chronicle. “But I was enraged that this person was in a position of power in my f--king community.”

At the time of the party, she was 21 and a senior at Fordham, while Ardila had graduated that spring (as the school’s alumni office confirmed) and had been working in the office of then-Councilman Brad Lander for less than two months, according to his LinkedIn page. There were about 15 to 20 people at the party. “We all managed to fit in a New York City apartment, so it couldn’t have been that many people,” the friend of the first victim told the Chronicle.

Most people at the party were friends or acquaintances of one or both victims. Ardila fell into neither category. 

“I’d never spoken to him — I think I might have had one class with him freshman year, but I had never ever even met him,” the first woman said. “I didn’t even think I had mutual friends with him.” She did not even realize Ardila was not in her graduating class until the Chronicle learned otherwise.

Like most at the party, the first victim had been drinking excessively that night, and described herself as having been inebriated to the point of borderline unconsciousness.

“About halfway through the night, I lost my memory,” she said. “But I do remember — this is where my memory pretty much cut out — we were on the couch in the living room, kind of away from everyone else, [and] he started becoming physical with me.” She added that he touched her extensively, and that they did not exchange words while that happened.

She said that soon after, her friend — who does not drink and was sober — caught Ardila dragging her “basically unconscious” friend to the bathroom and intervened before anything further could happen. When the friend recounted that portion of the evening the next day, the victim’s memory of what happened on the couch became more vivid. 

The Chronicle also interviewed the friend, who recalled seeing Ardila and the victim on the couch, but said that she was not watching them “incredibly closely.” 

“I would imagine that, yeah, they were touching to some degree, he was touching her, most likely,” she told the Chronicle. “Because I think that’s what compelled me to stop [him] — I knew what the intentions were, which is why I interceded.”

That part she remembers more clearly. “I saw him leading her towards, I assumed, the bathroom ... He was definitely taking her from the living room to somewhere else,” the friend said. “I grabbed her arm along the way, and I said something like, ‘No, she’s drunk.’”

The friend does not remember Ardila’s reply. “I remember feeling like, ‘I just don’t like this,’” she said. “I just had a bad feeling that something bad was going to happen.”

Whether Ardila was drinking is not clear. Though she said most at the party were drinking, the victim’s friend recalled having a short conversation with him in which he was “not noticeably intoxicated.” Referring to the encounter in the hallway, she said, “He was aware of where he was going, he was walking there — [my friend] was not.

“There was a very stark difference between how they were carrying themselves in that moment ... He was not stumbling. He was not out of his mind. He was very aware.”

The first victim emphasized that she was very intoxicated even before being on the couch with Ardila. She does not recall how she got on the couch and it “didn’t make sense” to her that she was sitting on it with Ardila. “I have a vivid memory of right before that ... I do remember thinking in my brain, ‘I can’t communicate right now. Like, what is going on?’”

“It almost felt like a dream,” she added.

When the Chronicle asked him about the alleged events of that night, Ardila said, “In 2015 I was in college.” He paused before adding, “Definitely not.”

The Chronicle called him again just before posting Monday’s story online to give him another chance to comment, but he did not respond. Hours later, his office sent its first written statement.

Neither woman reported anything to the police. The first was not sure what good it would do. “I have always been aware that this legal system was designed by men for men,” she said. Nor did they contact the appropriate offices at Fordham; the party had not been on campus.

The first victim was clear — in coming forward, she is aiming to protect other women. “I don’t believe in canceling people, I believe in people growing and changing,” she told the Chronicle. Later she added, “I just know people like that chase power, and then they ultimately unfortunately end up getting it, and they just use it to hurt more people.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the first victim formally called for Ardila to step down.

"I am calling for Juan Ardila to resign from his position as assemblymember," she said in a statement to the Chronicle. "I would like to see the organizations and elected officials who have publicly supported Juan publicly retract their support."

When Ardila released another longer statement that evening elaborating on the first, the first victim was not impressed. “I found it disappointing and the only acceptable response at this point is to resign,” she said. 

More and more lawmakers have joined her in that call since the Chronicle broke the story Monday.


This story has been updated to include a statement from Ardila sent by his office after publication, as well as a second one released Tuesday evening, along with the first woman's reaction to it. It also has been updated to include the first victim's call for Ardila to resign, noting that others have since joined her. It has also been updated to include that the Chronicle contacted Ardila a second time before publishing the story Monday. A screenshot of the Instagram exchange described in the story has also been added.