Shelter Island supervisor apologizes for rape joke

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SHELTER ISLAND -

There are calls for the Shelter Island supervisor to resign after he made a joke about rape while speaking at a public event sponsored by the local League of Women Voters.

Supervisor Jim Dougherty says he now realizes the joke he made about a woman being raped should have never been told.

"It was inappropriate, and I'm sorry to the people who felt offended," Dougherty says.

Critics say his apology is not enough.

Marilyn Fitterman is chairperson of the East End Chapter of the National Organization for Women and a former state chair of the group. She says Dougherty should resign.

"He's not in a locker room. He's saying this in a public forum," Fitterman says. "Right now we have an epidemic of rape on college campuses and he's saying it's funny."

The supervisor's comments have a lot of residents talking on Shelter Island, which has a population of less than 2,500.

Dougherty, 80, has been Shelter Island's supervisor for 10 years. Before that he worked as lawyer on Wall Street and as an executive with a supermarket chain. He says he has no intention of resigning, but does say he's open to sensitivity training.

"I feel I have a very strong record on defending and promoting women's rights, both in the private sector and as a public official," Dougherty says. "But I want to reaffirm that to my own satisfaction."

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