NY Governor Andrew Cuomo Resigns Over Sexual Harassment AllegationsGreg Garner
On August 10th, 2021, Andrew Cuomo resigned from office due to allegations of sexual harassment.
But the story of Cuomo’s resignation did not begin on August 10th. Instead, it was a five-month saga that led to the New York governor’s eventual downfall.
Keep reading to learn more about the allegations against Andrew Cuomo, the investigation that found these claims credible, and the consequences of Cuomo’s actions.
Allegations of Sexual Harassment
On Saturday, March 7th, the senators and representatives of New York were calling for Andrew Mark Cuomo’s resignation. Cuomo responded to their urgings with the words, “There is no way I resign.”
These new calls came in response to new allegations made by Ana Liss and Karen Hinton on March 6th.
Liss is a 35-year-old former policy and operations aide to Cuomo. She claimed that Cuomo had at one time both hugged and kissed her inappropriately. She alleged that he had grabbed her waist during a picture.
Hinton, Cuomo’s former press aide, claimed that Cuomo had called her to his hotel room. There, he hugged her and refused to let her pull away.
Hinton and Cuomo were both married at the time.
Cuomo’s director of communications Peter Ajemian was quick to claim to the public that this particular incident never happened.
Hinton also claimed that Cuomo was known to hire his employees based on their appearance.
Charlotte Bennett is a 25-year-old former executive assistant and health policy adviser to Cuomo. She first reported allegations less than a month earlier. This was on February 27th, 2021.
Bennett told reporters that Andrew Cuomo had asked her whether she had sex with older men.
Lindsey Boylan is Cuomo’s former deputy secretary for economic development as well as special adviser between 2015 and 2018. She also made allegations against Cuomo.
She said over Twitter in December that Cuomo had sexually harassed her “for years.” Boylan claimed that Cuomo had both kissed her and, at one point, asked her to play strip poker.
Similarly, a 33-year-old woman named Anna Ruch told reporters that Cuomo had touched her face and asked if he could kiss her at a wedding in 2019.
In one of the more shocking allegations, a former executive assistant named Brittany Commisso said that Cuomo began groping her in his office. He allegedly reached under her clothing and grabbed her breast.
While Cuomo has denied this and other incidents, a report by the Attorney General called the claims credible.
Back in March, Cuomo apologized for any “unwanted flirtation.” He also urged the public to wait for the results of the Attorney General’s investigation.
Before the results of the Attorney General’s investigation came out, the Democrat-controlled State Assembly began a separate impeachment investigation.
The Assembly could have chosen to impeach Cuomo immediately, but instead they decided to open an investigation.
Although the Assembly never concluded the investigation, the decision not to impeach immediately bought Cuomo some time in office.
The Results of the Attorney General’s Investigation
Unfortunately for Andrew Cuomo, the results of the investigation were not on his side.
The Attorney General’s report concluded that he had sexually harassed 11 different women. Nine of these women, the report said, were state employees.
Cuomo’s harassment included unwelcome touch, kissing, groping, and other inappropriate actions.
The state Attorney General also reported that Cuomo’s administration had tried to silence one of the women after she had made her claims against Cuomo.
Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation on August 10th, 2021.
In his announcement, he apologized again for making women feel uncomfortable but denied any serious crime or sexual harassment. He said, “I’ve never crossed the line with anyone.”
He blamed his misconduct on what he referred to as “generational and cultural shifts” that he “just didn’t fully appreciate.”
Before this resignation announcement, Cuomo’s outside attorney Rita Galvin made a presentation about the reports of sexual harassment. In the report, she denied all the allegations and discounted Cuomo’s accusers.
If Cuomo had not chosen to resign, the state Legislature almost certainly would have impeached and convicted him.
Cuomo’s resignation comes before he was able to run for a historic fourth term. This fourth term would have been likely because his previous popularity ratings were high.
Cuomo’s father, Mario Cuomo, also won three terms—and like Cuomo, he failed to secure a fourth term.
When Cuomo’s resignation takes effect in two weeks, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will take over as governor. When that happens, she will be the first female governor of the state of New York.
In his speech, Cuomo told the public that he does not believe that he committed sexual misconduct, but that his resignation would be best for the people of New York.
When asked about Cuomo’s resignation, President Joe Biden says that he respects Cuomo’s decision. Biden had previously called for Cuomo’s resignation.
Who Is Cuomo’s Replacement?
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s grandparents immigrated to the United States from Ireland. Her family has been in New York since then. Her father and grandfather worked as steelworkers.
After winning an election as Cuomo’s running mate in 2014, Hochul has been lieutenant governor since 2015. Before that, she was on the House Armed Services Committee in New York’s 26th Congressional District.
She has been involved in efforts to prevent and respond to cases of sexual assault on college campuses. In particular, she was the leader of the Cuomo administration’s “Enough is Enough” campaign.
She has a law degree, and she was legal counsel to both Representative John LaFalce and Senator Daniel Patrick.
In 2011, she won a special election in a primarily Republican district. But in 2012, she narrowly missed re-election in the same district.
In a Tweet, Hochul described sexual harassment as “unacceptable,” and called the governor’s actions “repulsive & unlawful.”
Perhaps Cuomo’s biggest mistake was his hypocrisy.
Publicly, Cuomo wanted to look like an advocate for women. In fact, in 2016, Cuomo tried to create a “women’s party” centered primarily around women’s issues.
He also pushed for legislation called the Women’s Equality Act, which focused on issues that affect women in New York.
But the Attorney General’s report proves that even though Cuomo spoke out publicly about his supposed support for women, in private he was sexually harassing 11 different women.
Additionally, his administration’s “Enough is Enough” campaign sought to respond to cases of sexual assault on college campuses. This campaign made it appear as if Cuomo cared about sexual assault.
But the new information about Cuomo’s past reveals that although he made sexual assault part of his political front, he acted differently in his private life.
In the wake of his downfall, Cuomo’s political future is unclear. While it is unlikely that he will ever again become governor, he may have a place in lower-level administrative positions of the Democratic Party.
The Science Behind Sexual Harassment Allegations
When incidents like this happen, it’s natural to talk about how to prevent this kind of situation in the future. Preventing sexual misconduct requires quick reporting of sexual harassment.
The problem is that women are often silent when it comes to sexual misconduct. Reporting misconduct can be embarrassing and frightening. Women often fear retaliation, especially in the form of firing.
But quick reporting is absolutely essential. Scientific studies demonstrate that when a victim reports sexual harassment that occurred years ago, listeners tend to blame the victim.
But when a victim reports sexual harassment within days, those who hear it are more likely to believe the allegations and respond positively.
Additionally, when women report harassment quickly, they make it possible to respond to the situation. A timely report can lead to the removal of a criminal from office, which can prevent future cases of misconduct.
This means that when women experience sexual misconduct, as they did in the case of Andrew Cuomo’s administration, they need to report the situation as quickly as possible.
How Can Women Report Sexual Misconduct?
If you are a woman experiencing sexual harassment or a toxic work environment, what can you do to report it?
First of all, you can report situations as quickly as possible to a supervisor. If you are uncomfortable reporting to your immediate supervisor, then you can report to local authorities.
The best course of action is to keep reporting until someone listens to you. If no authorities will listen, speak out publicly about it.
For more stories about sexual harassment, check out our News category.