New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has issued an extraordinary apology for his handling of a sexual harassment case that spanned years involving at least four women staffers before it was detected.

Silver specifically apologized for the $103,000 secret settlement he crafted last summer to end the first accusations against Assemblyman Vito Lopez and for failing to stop subsequent incidents claimed by more women staffers. Lopez resigned effective Monday morning. But Silver still faced some calls for him to step down. Silver repeatedly said he deeply regrets mistakes and failures for which he says he takes full responsibility. He announced several reforms that would keep the Assembly leaders out of any future ethics investigations, prohibit cash settlements, and establish an independent investigator.