NEW YORK (WKBW) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation Tuesday, effective in 14 days, following an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against him.
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced August 3 the independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo found he sexually harassed multiple women and violated state and federal laws.
Cuomo responded to the investigation and initially denied the findings, saying in part:
First, I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. I am 63-years-old. I have lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am. And that's not who I have ever been.
Elected leaders across the state responded to the findings, many calling for Cuomo's resignation. 7 Eyewitness News reached out to Western New York elected leaders on August 4 and a majority supported impeachment of Cuomo.
"This investigation was conducted in a manner to support a predetermined narrative," attorney Rita Glavin said.
Monday the New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee said its investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo would continue and a recommendation on impeachment could be made in a matter of "several weeks."
Tuesday Glavin held a virtual briefing again stating that the independent investigation contained errors, omitted key evidence and has not been and will not be a fair process.
Following Glavin's briefing, Cuomo held a briefing to address the people of New York. The governor said he accepts full responsibility and said our political system today is too often driven by the extremes and the political environment is "too hot and too reactionary."
You know me, I'm a New Yorker born and bred. I am a fighter and my instinct is to fight through this controversy, because I truly believe it is politically motivated. I believe it is unfair and it is untruthful, and I believe it demonizes behavior that is unsustainable for society. If I could communicate the facts through the frenzy New Yorkers would understand, I believe that. But when I took my oath as governor then it changed, I became a fighter, but I became a fighter for you, and it is your best interest that I must serve.
Cuomo continued on to say the situation will create months of political and legal controversy and he is stepping aside so that government can get back to governing.
New York tough means New York loving. And I love New York. And I love you. And everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love. And I would never want to be unhelpful in any way. And I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing. And therefore that's what I'll do, because I work for you and doing the right thing is doing the right thing for you. Because as we say it's not about me it's about we.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a Western New York native, is now set to take over as governor of New York. She released the following statement Tuesday:
I agree with Governor Cuomo's decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers.
As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor.
Attorney General James released the following statement Tuesday:
Today closes a sad chapter for all of New York, but it’s an important step towards justice.
I thank Governor Cuomo for his contributions to our state. The ascension of our Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul, will help New York enter a new day. We must continue to build on the progress already made and improve the lives of New Yorkers in every corner of the state. I know our state is in good hands with Lieutenant Governor Hochul at the helm, and I look forward to continuing to work with her.
In response to the announcement, the attorney for accuser Charlotte Bennett released the following statement:
Today is a solemn day. One week after the Attorney General released a detailed report substantiating 11 women’s allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against Governor Cuomo, he had no choice but to resign.
The Governor’s decision to resign is a testament to the growing power of women’s voices since the beginning of the #MeToo movement. It underscores that sexual harassment is no longer acceptable—no matter what office the harasser holds. When Lindsey Boylan first publicly accused Governor Cuomo of sexually harassing her, the Governor’s well-oiled political machine worked overtime to discredit her. Our client, Charlotte Bennett, was not willing to sit idly by while the Governor smeared Lindsey in the press. She knew that Lindsey was telling the truth because the Governor also sexually harassed her. Charlotte made the courageous decision to detail her own allegations to the public and to share her voluminous documentary evidence with investigators. Her contemporaneous text messages and emails and her sworn testimony demonstrated incontrovertibly that the Governor sexually harassed her at work. As is often the case, courage begets courage. Soon, other women came forward to support Lindsey and Charlotte in the face of the Governor’s continuing denials, even as evidence mounted against him.
We are humbled by Charlotte’s and the other complainants’ remarkable courage in coming forward. They made that extraordinary personal and professional sacrifice because they knew what it was like to have careers derailed and relationships destroyed by a single powerful individual. They knew the pain and indignity of being sexually propositioned and groped. And critically, they wanted to make sure no other women endured the same.
The investigators in this case conducted a comprehensive investigation under intense public scrutiny. They put witnesses at ease to ensure that the public would have the benefit of everyone’s evidence, and they compiled an extremely thorough and detailed report. Their process truly was a model for how high-stakes investigations should proceed. We are deeply appreciative of their unimpeachable work. And we are sickened by the Governor’s baseless attacks against them.
The Governor’s decision to resign is not the end of our reckoning with sexual harassment, but it is an important step in the right direction.
Lindsey Boylan also accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, she released the following statement via Twitter:
From the beginning, I simply asked that the Governor stop his abusive behavior. It became abundantly clear he was unable to do that, instead attacking and blaming victims until the end. It is a tragedy that so many stood by and watched these abuses happen.
I am thankful for the Attorney General, the investigators and all those who have pursued the truth despite intimidation and threats of retaliation.
Most importantly, I am in awe of the strength of the other women who risked everything to come forward. My hope always has been that this will make it safer for other women to report their own harassment and abuse. I will continue the fight to make that happen.
You can watch Cuomo's announcement below.
You can watch Glavin's announcement below.
If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace you can find resources here.