Allegations by several women of sexual misconduct have been made against the ex-Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo has been accused of inappropriate touching and kissing and of creating a “hostile and toxic work environment”. It has been suggested that he abused his power during his time as governor and Joon Kim who co-led the investigation described his lead as “a culture where you could not say no to the governor and if you upset him or his senior staff you’d be written off, cast aside or worse.”
The Governor was investigated for five months following the allegations, and investigators for the Attorney General have unveiled thousands of documents, texts and images which have been reviewed as part of the inquiry. Investigators spoke to almost 200 people, including current and ex-employees of Cuomo, some of whom have made new allegations. Attorney General Letitia James advised that “The independent investigation has concluded that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and in doing so violated federal and state law.”
Cuomo has denied all allegations and in response to one victim statement stated that she had engaged in “unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments.” Within his public statement he said “I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances…I have lived my entire life in public view. That is just not who I am.”
Whilst the allegations have been denied, it was confirmed on Tuesday 10 August 2021 that Cuomo has offered his resignation. This followed after President Joe Biden’s condemnation of the Governor, calling for him to resign and showing an understanding of the state should they decide to impeach.
The resignation of Cuomo arguably demonstrates a strike for ‘something new’ in US politics as whilst some New Yorkers have expressed concern that someone of similar qualities will become Cuomo’s successor, others have pointed out the need to support the #MeToo Movement and vote for change. Alexander Reichl, a political science professor at Queens College, stated that “the politics of New York has changed and he [Cuomo] was holding on.” Next to lead the state will be Cuomo’s ‘number 2’ Kathy Hochul, who will be the first woman to govern New York. Hochul has condemned Cuomo, stating that his conduct was “repulsive and unlawful”.
Many have agreed with the decision to step down, and since his resignation Cuomo has apologised publicly, and whilst he believes his actions and behaviour were acceptable at the time, he has acknowledged that the 11 women he allegedly harassed were “probably deeply offended”.