Sexual harassment investigation findings force New York’s governor to step down.
The findings of an investigation conducted by the New York State attorney general left little room for doubt about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s vexatious treatment of several women who worked on his staff, and forced him to submit his resignation. The Democrat, who was serving his third term as governor and who, in 2018, tightened laws to combat sexual abuse, was left with no way out, and his party demanded that he step down. Eleven women offered evidence in support of the powerful report made public last week. His stubborn refusal to step down would only have hurt the Democrats, and in the end, he gave in to the pressure.
In one year, the governor, whose daily press conferences were applauded for the firm stand he took in the face of the COVID-19 crisis and his stand against former President Donald Trump’s denial of the pandemic, has became the focus of problems. Moreover, his handling of the pandemic was called into question when it was confirmed that he failed to include certain deaths of elderly people as part of a census of those who were transferred from nursing homes to hospitals. New York counted 8,500 deaths in nursing homes, but the real figure is 15,000.
Since the first accusation in December 2020, to which new evidence and allegations were added in February and March, the pressure on Cuomo continued to mount. The version he offered in a statement five months ago about what he considered to be joking, but which subsequently turned out to have caused hurt feelings, did not help him. The evidence is overwhelming and went beyond making comments to nonconsensual kissing and touching as well. Sexual advances by a boss to his subordinates are no longer accepted as an occupational hazard. This week the resignation of his closest aide and right-hand aide, Melissa DeRosa, further underscored the incongruity of Cuomo attempting to cling to his position and his insistence on fighting impeachment.
Cuomo becomes one more in the list of politicians who have behaved as if they could do anything, similar to former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned over allegations of violence and abuse. Three years after the #MeToo movement, there is still much unacceptable behavior toward women that persists, but now it is taking a toll. Cuomo’s departure allows for the arrival of the first female governor of New York State, Kathy Hochul. The world is certainly changing.