UPDATED: 12:40 p.m. ET, Aug. 10
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has resigned following a sexual harassment scandal with 11 women who accused him of fostering a discriminatory and predatory culture of misconduct in the workplace.
Cuomo’s resignation paves the way for New York to have its first woman governor as Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul prepares to succeed him.
The now-former governor stepped down exactly one week after New York Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James announced her investigation into the governor had violated multiple state and federal laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, 42 U.S. Code § 1983 and the Executive Chambers’s own policies. James’ team interviewed 179 people and reviewed more than 74,000 documents, texts, emails and pictures.
Between 2013 and 2020, Cuomo made unwanted sexual advancements toward 11 current and former staffers, James’ investigation found. The harassment included unwanted groping, kissing, hugging and making inappropriate comments.
In the days before Cuomo resigned, he had been doubling down on his insistence that he is innocent and even had his attorneys try to throw shade at the attorney general’s office.
During a press conference Friday afternoon, Cuomo’s attorneys accused the New York attorney general and her staff of pursuing an agenda instead of the facts. Fabien Levy, press secretary and senior advisor to the attorney general, responded to the Cuomo team’s claims in a brief statement.
“The independent investigators selected are widely respected professionals, recognized for their legal and investigatory ability,” read the statement. “To attack this investigation and attempt to undermine and politicize this process takes away from the bravery displayed by these women.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James and her staff have handled many high-profile investigations in the past year alone. Taking on the NRA, right-wing trolls trying to disenfranchise Black voters, and the NYPD, James has prioritized the state’s best interest, unlike Cuomo.
Cuomo’s team went on the defensive after one of his accusers filed a criminal complaint with the Albany County Sheriff’s office. The Associated Press reported survivors and advocates called out Cuomo’s behavior.
The hubris and audacity to insist on doing nothing wrong and refusal to vacate the state’s highest office despite thousands of records corroborating the allegations.
“In these moments, survivor’s stories are the ones that should be elevated,” Burke wrote in an email to the Associated Press. She noted the 11 women had corroborated allegations detailing harassment and a culture of fear. “His family’s story does not exonerate him, and he does not get to use someone else’s trauma as his own shield.”
Survivors of Cuomo’s harassment heard the governor use the sexual trauma of a relative as a shield for his own documented unacceptable behavior. Marissa Hoechstetter, one survivor, told the Associated Press Cuomo’s reference bothered her. “You can have someone in his family who experienced sexual harm, and he could also have caused this harm,” Hoechstetter told the outlet.”
Cuomo’s disrespect of women could be seen in his attempt to pass off a picture of New York state senate leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins among the governor’s supporters in his slideshow earlier in the week. Except the Black woman pictured was not Stewart-Cousins.
“It’s offensive but not surprising,” said Mike Murphy, spokesman for the state Democratic Conference on behalf of State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins to the New York Post. “They’ve done this exact same thing before.”
Stewart-Cousins has been steady in her call for Cuomo to resign. Speaking to New York NOW, Stewart-Cousins praised Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, as a temporary replacement for Cuomo.
“We understand what’s important,” Stewart-Cousins said. “And what’s important is keeping our focus on making sure that New Yorkers are doing well.”