Andrew Cuomo—once praised for his response to the pandemic and for bickering with his brother on live television—is now under investigation after numerous sexual assault allegations.
Sexual Assault Accusations Against Cuomo
Current and former aides to the New York governor have stepped forward and shared their stories of times they felt uncomfortable around Mr. Cuomo.
In December 2020 through a series of tweets, Lindsey Boylan alleged that Cuomo sexually harassed her for years. At the time Cuomo simply denied the allegations. In February, Boylan expanded upon her allegations, including an invitation to a game of strip poker, and an unwanted kiss on the lips a year later. These were just two of the occasions in which she felt so uncomfortable around him she turned down a job promotion (which she later accepted upon pressure from Cuomo).
Another former aide to the governor, Charlotte Bennett, revealed in an interview with The New York Times that after a number of sexual comments, she “understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared.” Again, Cuomo stated that he respected Bennett, while also denying any allegations she made.
The main catalyst to the emergence of Cuomo’s dull effort of an apology–in addition to even more women coming forward–was Anna Ruch, someone who had never worked for Cuomo, rather only met him briefly at a wedding. At the 2019 wedding, Cuomo forcefully grabbed at Ruch who was, “so confused and shocked and embarrassed,” after she denied Cuomo’s request to kiss her. As per usual, Cuomo denied these allegations as well.
Cuomo’s Multiple Failed Apologies
Apologies are often not politicians’ strong suit, and Andrew Cuomo is no exception.
In his first public statement since the allegations, he simply denied everything: claiming that he Ms. Bennett’s allegations were false, and that he never intended on acting “in any way that was inappropriate.”
Following Ruch’s allegation, Cuomo stated his intentions were never “to offend anyone or cause any harm,” further adding that some of his comments “may have been insensitive or too personal.” He denied ever touching anybody inappropriately, but understood that “these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to.”
Unfortunately for Mr. Cuomo, there is no circumstance in which asking an employee about their dating life–especially whether or not they are monogamous, or whether they’ve dated an older man– is appropriate. Sure, he “now understands” that his actions “made others feel in ways [he] never intended,” but these actions occurred over the course of the past five years: the #MeToo movement went viral in 2017.
Only once has Gov. Cuomo uttered the words “I’m sorry.”
Calls for Cuomo’s Resignation
Multiple democrats have called for Cuomo to resign, including Mayor De Blasio, longtime political rival to Cuomo, who condemned his actions and stated that the Governor was “literally in the way of us saving lives right now.”
As one can expect, multiple Republican party members immediately called for Cuomo’s resignation. Cuomo claimed their calls for his resignation were a “political maneuver,” an attempt to get the New York Governor out of office.
What followed, though, were dozens of democrats also calling for his resignation. Democrats in the state legislature have announced an official impeachment investigation, and at this point, sixteen of the nineteen Democratic House Delegation have called for Cuomo’s resignation. Beyond New York state, numerous progressive and democrat representatives have called for his resignation, including Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and others.
Silence Amongst Pro-Women Politicians
However, there’s a notable silence from higher-ups: neither President Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris have formerly condemned Cuomo’s actions.
Harris was one of the most vocal people at the confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh, stating “I believe her”–‘her’ being Christine Blasey Ford who had accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were in college.”
When asked to comment on the Governor’s actions, Harris simply walked away.
Neither VP Harris nor President Biden have come forward to personally condemn the actions taken by Governor Cuomo. Instead, Press Secretary, Jen Psaki stated that she thinks, “the Vice President’s view is she believes a woman should be treated with respect. Their voices should be heard. They should tell their story.”
Given that four out of five of Cuomo’s accusers worked on the Biden campaign, his silence has not gone unnoticed either. The administration once again chose to rely on Press Secretary Psaki, who stated that Biden “believes every woman coming forward should be heard, should be treated with dignity, and treated with respect.”
The administration posted a statement on the same day speaking out against an oppressive bill had been passed in Georgia. Additionally, their recent statements have outright condemned the recent acts of xenophobic gun violence.
Considering that she has spoken out about voter suppression and the need for gun control, how can Harris position herself as a crusader for women’s rights if she’s silent as women, who worked on her running mate’s campaign are questioned while their abuser remains in office.
The Allegations Against Cuomo
At the end of the day, their allegations should be taken seriously. They deserve to watch the perpetrator of their abuse face consequences for his actions. They deserve more than their perpetrator remaining in office and making decisions about their lives.
On the other hand, while Cuomo deserves a free and fair trial, he doesn’t deserve to stay in office. Men who abuse their power have no right to remain in power.