UPDATE: Groping Charges Dropped for Former NY Gov Andrew Cuomo
The governor of New York State is under the public’s microscope again after the conclusion of an investigation. NY Governor
The governor of New York State is under the public’s microscope again after the conclusion of an investigation. NY Governor Andrew Cuomo was being investigated for claims that he sexually harassed multiple women and intimidated staffers. The state attorney general has now released the results of that investigation, and things are not looking good for Cuomo. Despite public pressure, the governor remains defiant and has responded to the attorney general.
Groping Charges Dropped – But it’s Still Very Serious
One of the charges against embattled former NY governor Andrew Cuomo has been dropped, but his woes are far from over. ABC reports, “Albany District Attorney David Soares has decided against going forward with a forcible touching charge against former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
‘While many have an opinion regarding the allegations against the former governor, the Albany County DA’s Office is the only one who has a burden to prove the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt,’ Soares said in a statement.
‘While we found the complainant in this case cooperative and credible, after review of all the available evidence we have concluded that we cannot meet our burden at trial. As such, we have notified the Court that we are declining to prosecute this matter and requesting the charges filed by the Albany County Sheriff be dismissed,’ his statement continued.”
The charge that has now been dropped was the only one to originate from a report from the NYAG that found Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women. Two other prosecutors had already declined to charge Cuomo for allegations in their own districts in Westchester and Nassau counties.
While Cuomo seems to have dodged legal woes for now, his reputation has been dragged through the mud and the results of the report from the Attorney General remain damning.
Cuomo Resigns Amid Firestorm
Despite remaining defiant in recent days as an impeachment proceeding builds against the New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo has announced today that he will ‘step aside.” This decision comes on the heels of much defiant language from the embattled governor along with the resignation of a top aide, and is a stunning reversal of his stance since the beginning of the scandal first broke.
ABC news reports per MSN, “In announcing his resignation, Cuomo said his instinct was to fight through the controversy, which he said is politically motivated.
‘This is about politics, and our political system today is too often driven by extremes,’ Cuomo said.
However, Cuomo said, the situation on its current trajectory would create months of controversy, consume government, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
As a result, he said, ‘the best way I can help now is if I step aside.’”
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will ascend to the governor’s seat, making her the first woman governor of the state.
Results of the Investigation
New York State Attorney General Letitia James has announced the results of an investigation into Governor Cuomo. James’ office said that they found that Cuomo had indeed sexually harassed multiple women, both current and past employees of the state, as well as a number of women who are not employees. According to the report, Cuomo engaged in “unwelcome and nonconsensual touching” of a sexual nature. Cuomo also made suggestive comments, and it created a hostile work environment for female employees according to the report. The Attorney General says that Cuomo’s behavior violated several state laws.
CNN reports, “The report details the allegations of 11 women claiming harassment. Investigators found all 11 women to be credible, [Investigator Anne] Clark said, adding that their accounts had been corroborated to varying degrees. One accuser, Charlotte Bennett, told people and texted with people in real time about her interactions with the governor, according to Clark. One of the touching incidents alleged by the trooper was witnessed by another state trooper, who confirmed it to investigators, Clark said.
‘I believe women. And I believe these 11 women,’ James said”
Per CNN, “‘We also conclude that the Executive Chamber’s culture — one filled with fear and intimidation, while at the same time normalizing the Governor’s frequent flirtations and gender-based comments — contributed to the conditions that allowed the sexual harassment to occur and persist,’ investigators Joon Kim and Anne Clark wrote in the report. ‘That culture also influenced the improper and inadequate ways in which the Executive Chamber has responded to allegations of harassment.’”
Cuomo’s peers and the internet as a whole have immediately demanded that Cuomo resign. When the allegations were first brought to the public’s attention last year, it was suggested that he resign as well. At the time, Cuomo was defiant. It would seem that he believed an investigation would exonerate him, which begs the question: does he even realize how egregious his behavior is?
Cuomo has since released an 85-page legal response to the findings of the investigation, denying wrongdoing. And in a bizarre press conference, showed that he is still defiant and feels unfairly wronged. Cuomo took the podium for 15 minutes later and in a rambling, somewhat whiny monologue denied all of the accusations, going so far as to bring up the fact that a family member of his has been sexually assaulted so he has great empathy for victims.
HuffPost reports, “‘I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,’ Cuomo said. ‘I am 63 years old. I’ve lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am and that’s not who I have ever been.’
… The governor remained defiant throughout his speech and even went so far as to display a slideshow of him kissing people’s cheeks in order to show how his alleged interactions with certain women are not inappropriate. The slideshow included a photo of Cuomo’s mother kissing him and another image of his father kissing him to show that he learned this interaction from his parents and it’s ‘meant to convey warmth, nothing more,’ the governor said.
‘I do it with everyone: Black and white, young and old, straight and LGBTQ, powerful people, friends, strangers, people who I meet on the street,’ Cuomo said of kissing.”
That bizarre defense isn’t resonating with pretty much anyone. The governor says this is all a political ploy by people looking to get him to resign.
What Does the Future Hold?
And cries for him to do just that have renewed again in the wake of the investigation findings. Several state Congresspeople have demanded that Cuomo resign, and the wave of indignation has spread all the way to Washington D.C.
Per HuffPost, “U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) released a joint statement following Cuomo’s news conference calling for the governor to step down.
‘The New York State Attorney General has conducted an independent, thorough and professional investigation that found the Governor violated state and federal law, had a pattern of sexually harassing current and former employees, retaliated against at least one of the accusers and created a hostile work environment,’ the senators said. ‘No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign.’”
President Joe Biden said back in March that if the allegations were true, Cuomo would resign. So is he going to? As of today, it seems unlikely. The governor clearly feels that this is a political hit job. But 11 women who are all found to be reliable will be hard to discredit. And with pressure coming from the top down for Cuomo to resign, he will have to face the prospect of governing without the eager cooperation of his peers, or resigning as asked. Time will tell what he decides, but as of today Cuomo is in, and self-righteously indignant.