Women who accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of misconduct said they feel “vindicated and relieved” that the embattled governor soon will no longer be in power.
Once a prominent national voice for Democrats and lauded for what many saw as an aggressive pandemic response, Cuomo dramatically fell from grace, announcing on Tuesday that he was resigning from office.
His decision comes on the heels of a bombshell 168-page report released last week by New York State Attorney General Letitia James that concluded the governor sexually harassed multiple women, including some who worked for him, and in at least one instance sought to retaliate against an accuser.
Cuomo has denied all allegations that he sexually harassed women, but apologized on Tuesday to those he “offended.”
“In my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone,” Cuomo said during remarks announcing his resignation. “But I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn.”
Mariann Wang, an attorney representing two women — Alyssa McGrath and Virginia Limmiatis — who accused Cuomo of inappropriate behavior, said in a statement that her clients “feel both vindicated and relieved that Cuomo will no longer be in a position of power over anyone.”
James’ report states that Cuomo made inappropriate comments and engaged in harassing conduct toward McGrath, who was Cuomo’s executive assistant. Limmiatis met Cuomo at an event she attended on behalf of her employer in 2017 and accused him of inappropriate touching, according to the report.
“Ms. McGrath and Ms. Limmiatis remain grateful that their voices and experiences were heard and substantiated by the AG’s investigators, and feel solidarity with all women who continue to be abused by men in power,” Wang added. “At least today, one of them has faced some consequences.”
Debra Katz, an attorney for former Cuomo aide Charlotte Bennett, called the governor’s decision to resign “a testament to the growing power of women’s voices since the beginning of the #MeToo movement.”
“We are humbled by Charlotte’s and the other complainants’ remarkable courage in coming forward,” Katz added in a statement. “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.”
She concluded Cuomo stepping down “is not the end of our reckoning with sexual harassment, but it is an important step in the right direction.”
Bennett accused Cuomo of making inappropriate comments, and had reported their interactions to higher-ups in the governor’s office. The state attorney general’s report said Bennett’s concerns were not raised to the state agency tasked with conducting harassment investigations and Bennett was moved to a different position where she would not need to interact with the governor.
Lindsey Boylan, who accused Cuomo of inappropriate comments and unwanted touching, responded to the news in a Twitter thread Tuesday.
“From the beginning, I simply asked that the Governor stop his abusive behavior,” she wrote. “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.”
She thanked James and the state investigators for their work, as well as “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,” Boylan added. “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.”
In remarks announcing his resignation Tuesday, Cuomo called the allegations that he sexually harassed 11 women “false” and said his lawyers “have reviewed the report over the past several days and have already raised serious issues and flaws that should concern all New Yorkers.”
“Because when there is a bias or a lack of fairness in the justice system, it is a concern for everyone — not just those immediately affected,” he added. “The most serious allegations made against me have no credible factual basis in the report.”
Still, the governor apologized for offending those who leveled the accusations.
“There is a difference between alleged improper conduct and concluding sexual harassment,” Cuomo said. “Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that there are not 11 women who I truly offended. There are. And for that I deeply, deeply apologize.”