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Advocates for women and survivors of sexual assault and harassment called for New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s immediate resignation after a state investigation released on Tuesday said he sexually harassed 11 women.
The investigation found that Cuomo’s administration created a “climate of fear” at the workplace and violated federal and state civil laws. Cuomo has denied the allegations and on Tuesday appeared to resist calls to step down.
The 165-page report from the New York attorney general, Letitia James, will likely play a crucial role in the state assembly’s impeachment inquiry. Advocates said they supported the inquiry but hoped for swifter action.
The leaders of me too. International, said that Cuomo’s continued denial of the allegations “is unacceptable and robs survivors of the justice they deserve” and called for the governor’s resignation.
“This moment is larger than Governor Cuomo,” the organization’s executive director, Tarana Burke, and CEO, Dani Ayers, said in a statement. “It’s about the culture of impunity that leaders like him rely on after they’ve committed harm. This is about disrupting toxic work environments that maintain dominance, fear and control at the expense of safety, agency and consent.”
The attorney general’s investigation launched in March, after several women publicly accused Cuomo of sexual harassment. The women’s advocacy organization, UltraViolet, called for Cuomo’s resignation at the time, and reiterated those calls after the attorney general’s report was released.
“This report proves what we suspected – Andrew Cuomo is unfit to represent New York State. We implore Democrats who called for this investigation to take the results seriously,” said Bridget Todd, director of communications at UltraViolet, in a statement. “Anything less is unacceptable and a flagrant disregard for past, present and future employees and residents of New York state.”
Fatima Goss Graves, the president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, said in a statement that the stories detailed in the attorney general’s report were “unfortunately all too typical of the continuing, pervasive epidemic of sexual harassment and violence in workplaces, schools, and homes throughout the country”.
Goss Graves, the co-founder of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, said it would be a “disservice to survivors everywhere” if Cuomo remained in office and called for him to resign or be removed from office immediately.
“No individual should be exempt from consequences, especially not those who rely on their profile or powerful position to avoid accountability,” Goss Graves said. “In fact, we must demand more from our leaders, particularly those in elected office whose sworn responsibility it is to protect and serve their constituents.”
Time’s Up, a group which supports victims of sexual harassment, also called on Cuomo to resign immediately and said the stories shared in the report “are heartbreaking and far too common”.
“We acknowledge and deeply respect the courage and sacrifice of the 11 women who came forward to share their experiences of harassment and the retaliation they endured,” the group said in a statement. “Demanding accountability and justice from someone in power is never easy and it comes at great risk but, by boldly coming forward, these women have given others the courage to do the same.”