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Why Cuomo's harassment response is seen as problematic for survivors

Posted at 6:04 PM, Aug 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-05 18:06:42-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Lawyer, advocate, and sexual harassment survivor Elias Farah watched Governor Cuomo's 15 minute response to sexual harassment allegations in shock.

"That was probably one of the most disgusting videos I have ever seen," Farah said, "It was excuse after excuse."

For Farah, the below comment was the most insulting to harassment survivors, Cuomo's victims, and the entire state.

"My own family member is a survivor of sexual assault," Cuomo said, "I watched her live through the trauma."

Cuomo would go onto say that some of the allegations stem from conversations he had with employees where, he claims, he was trying to assist them. He says he was using the information he learned after his family member's assault to offer advice.

"You're making excuses," Farah said of the Governor, "Saying he had a similar situation, but that doesn't excuse any of the behavior."

According to Farah, he believes this was the most disturbing part because the Governor wanted to be seen as a hero for survivors. Farah says that moment shouldn't have been made about the Governor.

"It doesn't matter how Andrew Cuomo was feeling that day, how he feels in ten days, how he felt last year, what matters is how the victims felt."

Farah volunteers with a group called the Sexual Harassment Working Group, which is made up of those who experienced sexual harassment while serving in New York State Government.

Farah said that they are trying to pass laws to better protect government employees, especially those who come forward.

"When you work for the government you don't have any of those protections, if you come forward you might lose your job over it and that is just outrageous."

Farah believes that change will only come with the resignation of the governor and for increased protections to happen. Until then, he's unsure if harassment at all levels of government will stop.

"We keep trying to change Albany but it seems that Albany keeps saying the exact same, so these systemic changes need to happen from the top down."