Harassment Allegations Against Andrew Cuomo
Democratic governor of New York state, Andrew Cuomo, has received calls for his resignation and possibly impeachment by both Democratic and Republican elected officials due to recent allegations regarding sexual assault and harassment. So far, there have been seven women to come forward and accuse Cuomo of sexual misconduct, including some former aides and co-workers.
Cuomo allegedly made advances on four different former aides. Charlotte Bennett said he questioned her about her sexual history, and queried as to if she had ever been with an older man. Lindsey Boylan, who had previously spoken out against the governor in December, reported that Cuomo had touched her inappropriately on her arms, legs, and back, and, during an individual meeting with her, forced an unreciprocated kiss. The two other allegations from former aides Karen Hinton and Ana Liss came out more recently. Hinton said Cuomo forced her into an “intimate embrace” while in a hotel room, a situation which Cuomo denied. Liss said Cuomo questioned her about her dating life and then kissed her on the hand. Another woman, a current aide who has chosen to remain anonymous, said that Cuomo had groped her under her shirt when he had called for help with a technical problem. Another woman, Anna Ruch, alleges that Cuomo made unwelcome advances to her at a wedding. She says he touched her lower back and attempted to kiss her.
Cuomo has since apologized, saying that he ‘unintentionally acted’ in a way which made people uncomfortable. However, despite apologizing, he has denied the allegations, saying he has “never touched anyone inappropriately” and has refused to step down as governor. Both parties have called for an independent investigation into these allegations, with the potential for an impeachment investigation as well. Cuomo’s office has given the state attorney general’s office authority to investigate. The attorney general, Letitia James, is using two independent lawyers, Joon H. Kim and Anne L. Clarke, to lead the case. Kim, who specializes in internal investigations, has investigated Cuomo before, in 2014 after he shut down an anti-corruption panel. Kim had also played a role prosecuting a close friend of Cuomo’s, Joseph Percoco, on federal corruption charges in 2016. Clarke has had experience in representing in sexual harassment cases. Both lawyers are well regarded. Cuomo and his office have been cooperating, but denying the allegations nonetheless.
The Cuomo administration is also under hot water due to the handling of COVID-19. Cuomo is also currently being investigated by federal prosecutors on claims that he mishandled coronavirus response in New York nursing homes, and that he covered up the true number of COVID related nursing home deaths. Aides in the Cuomo administration not only withheld data relating to COVID in nursing homes, but they also rewrote a report to further throw off the numbers.
The investigation could take months, but this could finally be a moment where a wealthy, white, male politician receives consequences for his actions against women. Cuomo refused to resign because he was elected by the people of New York, not by other politicians. This is all the more reason for accountability; as an elected official, he should and will be held accountable for his actions not only against women, but for how he handled COVID-19.