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Vera House Calls for New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to Resign

Yesterday, New York State Attorney General Letitia James released an independent investigation report that found Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed 11 current and former state employees. It also uncovered that the governor created a workplace environment that was intimidating and toxic. 

Some of the details of the report, such as his unwanted touching of a state trooper in his protective detail and asking to kiss her, are deeply disturbing. The report demonstrates a pattern of preying on women over whom the governor had power. 

Shortly after the report’s release, Gov. Cuomo issued a video statement in which he minimized and justified his harassment. He admitted to asking accuser Charlotte Bennett inappropriate questions about her sex life, but claimed he was trying to help her as a sexual assault survivor. He dismissed complaints about his unwanted kissing and groping, saying they were a part of his upbringing and Italian culture. 

The need to get consent before touching or kissing others always applies. The governor’s statements are classic examples of victim-blaming and gaslighting. 

Sexual harassment and abuse of power transcend politics. The governor has positioned himself as a champion of equality, yet he has repeatedly victimized people who work for him. Anyone who commits sexual harassment must be accountable for the harm they cause. 

Gov. Cuomo has said himself numerous times that sexual harassment is unacceptable in workplaces. When he endorsed legislation to end forced arbitration for sexual harassment survivors, he said, “Sexual harassment's pervasive abuse tears at the fabric of society and violates personal and public trust and in New York we are taking every step to ensure that this abhorrent practice is stopped once and for all.”

When reports found that former Assemblymember Vito Lopez had harassed members of his staff, Gov. Cuomo said, “There should be a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment and we must now send a clear message that this behavior is not tolerated. Vito Lopez should not spend another day in office, let alone a whole month. He should resign effective immediately and if he does not, he must be expelled.”

He made similar statements about Assemblymembers Micah Kellner and Dennis Gabryszak, who were accused of sexual misconduct, saying, “This pattern of behavior is repugnant by every standard and directly contradicts the policies the Assembly has advanced for the last 20 years.”

At this time, the governor has said he will not resign. His refusal to do so, despite national pressure, speaks to the abuse of power and the lack of accountability in our government and culture at large. While one of his victims was told by a superior that Gov. Cuomo’s inappropriate question about her clothing “stays in the truck,” the governor remains in power. 

We ask: Why is the pain of speaking the truth about powerful men harder to bear than the pain of keeping abuse bottled up inside? 

Out of respect for his victims and constituents, we urge Gov. Cuomo to step down immediately. 

Survivors of sexual harassment and assault may be triggered by news about the governor’s harassment. If you would like to talk or receive support, please call Vera House’s 24-hour hotline at (315) 468-3260 or message us through our support live web chat

A Message to Andrew Cuomo

“The Friends of Andrew Cuomo” spent over $300,000 to launch an ad campaign designed to paint former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as a victim of political attacks because of the sexual harassment claims against him. We cannot allow this gaslighting to continue while the ad revictimizes victims of not only Cuomo’s sexual harassment but ANYONE who has ever experienced abuse. The tactics used by Cuomo and his supporters further represent the barriers that survivors face every day that prevent them from coming forward and getting support. 

 

We at Vera House have asked Andrew Cuomo to take accountability for the harm he has caused on multiple occasions. Instead of admitting to his wrongdoings, he continues to use power and control to suppress and invalidate the truths of the survivors.  Today we released a video, produced by Solon Quinn Studios and supported by Survivors’ Network, that sends a powerful message to survivors, "I believe you."  

 

We are asking you to help us amplify the video so that survivors throughout New York and the rest of the world know that we believe and stand with them. 

 

Here’s how to get involved:  

1. Share our post on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter  

2. Engage with our content on Instagram and TikTok   

3. Share survivor support resources from your organization  

4. Tag @verahouseinc  

 

For any questions or to request an interview with a member of Survivors' Network, please contact us at: communications@verahouse.org