Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigns over sexual harassment allegations

NEW YORK (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced his resignation Tuesday over a barrage of sexual harassment allegations in a fall from grace a yr after he was extensively hailed nationally for his detailed day by day briefings and management throughout among the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

By turns defiant and chastened, the 63-year-old Democrat emphatically denied deliberately mistreating girls and known as the stress for his ouster politically motivated. However he mentioned that combating again on this “too scorching” political local weather would topic the state to months of turmoil.

“One of the simplest ways I can assist now could be if I step apart and let authorities get again to governing,” Cuomo mentioned in a televised handle.

The third-term governor’s resignation, which is able to take impact in two weeks, was introduced as momentum constructed within the Legislature to take away him by impeachment and after practically your complete Democratic institution had turned towards him, with President Joe Biden becoming a member of these calling on him to resign.

The choice got here every week after New York’s lawyer common launched the outcomes of an investigation that discovered Cuomo sexually harassed a minimum of 11 girls.

Investigators mentioned he subjected girls to undesirable kisses; groped their breasts or buttocks or in any other case touched them inappropriately; made insinuating remarks about their seems to be and their intercourse lives; and created a piece setting “rife with worry and intimidation.”

On the identical time, Cuomo was below fireplace over the invention that his administration had hid 1000’s of COVID-19 deaths amongst nursing residence sufferers.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a 62-year-old Democrat and former member of Congress from the Buffalo space, will develop into the state’s 57th governor and the primary girl to carry the submit. She mentioned Cuomo’s resignation was “the correct factor to do and in the perfect curiosity of New Yorkers.”

The #MeToo-era scandal minimize quick not only a profession however a dynasty: Cuomo’s father, Mario Cuomo, was governor within the Nineteen Eighties and ’90s, and the youthful Cuomo was usually talked about as a possible presidential candidate. Even because the scandal mushroomed, he was planning to run for reelection in 2022.

Republicans exulted in Cuomo’s departure however nonetheless urged impeachment, which may forestall him from working for workplace once more. “This resignation is solely an try to keep away from actual accountability,” state GOP chair Nick Langworthy mentioned.

On the White Home, Biden mentioned: “I respect the governor’s determination.” On the identical time, he mentioned Cuomo had “achieved a helluva job” on infrastructure and voting rights, and “that’s why it’s so unhappy.”

“From the start, I merely requested that the governor cease his abusive habits,” Lindsey Boylan, the primary girl to accuse Cuomo publicly of harassment, tweeted Tuesday. “It turned abundantly clear he was unable to do this, as an alternative attacking and blaming victims till the top.”

Cuomo nonetheless faces the potential of prison prices, with various prosecutors across the state persevering with to research him. Not less than one in every of his accusers has filed a prison criticism.

The governor prefaced his resignation with a 45-minute protection from his lawyer and his personal insistence that his habits — whereas typically insensitive, off-putting or “too acquainted” — had been used towards him as a weapon in a political setting the place “rashness has changed reasonableness.”

“I’m a fighter, and my intuition is to struggle by means of this controversy as a result of I actually imagine it’s politically motivated. I imagine it’s unfair and it’s untruthful,” he mentioned, however added that he didn’t need “distractions” to eat the state authorities because it grapples with the pandemic and different issues.

The string of accusations started in information reviews final December and went on for months. Cuomo known as among the allegations fabricated and denied he touched anybody inappropriately. However he acknowledged making some aides uncomfortable with feedback he mentioned he meant as playful, and he apologized for a few of his habits.

He portrayed some encounters as misunderstandings attributable to “generational or cultural” variations, invoking his upbringing in an affectionate Italian American household.

The lawyer common’s investigation backed up the ladies’s accounts and added lurid new ones, turning up the stress on Cuomo. Investigators additionally mentioned that the governor’s workers retaliated towards Boylan by leaking confidential personnel information about her.

As governor, Cuomo proclaimed himself a “progressive Democrat” who will get issues achieved: Since taking workplace in 2011, he helped push by means of laws that legalized homosexual marriage, started lifting the minimal wage to $15 and expanded paid household depart advantages. He additionally backed huge infrastructure tasks, together with a brand new Hudson River bridge that he named after his father.

On the identical time he was participating within the habits that received him into bother, he was publicly championing the #MeToo motion and surrounding himself with girls’s rights activists. He signed into legislation sweeping new protections towards sexual harassment and lengthened the statute of limitations in rape instances.

His resignation is “a testomony to the rising energy of ladies’s voices for the reason that starting of the #MeToo motion,” mentioned Debra Katz, a lawyer for one in every of his accusers, Charlotte Bennett.

Cuomo’s nationwide reputation soared in the course of the harrowing spring of 2020, when New York was the deadly epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak and he turned President Donald Trump’s chief antagonist within the minds of many Individuals.

Cuomo’s tough-minded however compassionate rhetoric made for riveting tv properly past New York, as he sternly warned folks to remain residence and put on masks whereas Trump usually dismissed the virus. Cuomo’s briefings received a global Emmy Award, and he went on to write down a e book on management in a disaster.

However these accomplishments had been quickly tainted when it emerged that the state’s official rely of nursing residence deaths had excluded many victims who had been transferred to hospitals earlier than they succumbed. A Cuomo aide acknowledged the administration feared the true numbers can be “used towards us” by the Trump White Home.

Additionally, Cuomo’s administration was fiercely criticized for forcing nursing properties to just accept sufferers recovering from the virus.

The U.S. Justice Division is investigating the state’s dealing with of knowledge on nursing residence deaths. As well as, the state lawyer common is wanting into whether or not Cuomo broke the legislation in utilizing members of his workers to assist write and promote his e book, from which he stood to make greater than $5 million.

The governor additionally confronted growing criticism over his tough and typically vindictive therapy of fellow politicians and his personal workers, with former aides telling tales of a brutal work setting.

Cuomo has been divorced since 2005 from creator and activist Kerry Kennedy, a member of the Kennedy household, and was romantically concerned up till 2019 with TV life-style persona Sandra Lee. He has three grownup daughters and appealed to them as he stepped down.

“I need them to know, from the underside of my coronary heart: I by no means did, and I by no means would, deliberately disrespect a lady or deal with any girl in another way than I’d need them handled,” he mentioned. “Your dad made errors. And he apologized. And he discovered from it. And that’s what life is all about.”

Cuomo received his begin in politics as his father’s hard-nosed and sometimes ruthless marketing campaign supervisor, then was New York lawyer common and U.S. housing secretary below President Invoice Clinton earlier than getting elected governor in 2010.

New York has seen a string of high-level politicians introduced down in shame lately.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned in 2008 in a prostitution scandal. Rep. Anthony Weiner went to jail for sexting with a 15-year-old woman. Lawyer Common Eric Schneiderman stepped down in 2018 after 4 girls accused him of abuse. And the Legislature’s high two leaders had been convicted of corruption.


Villeneuve reported from Albany, New York. Related Press writers Jennifer Peltz in New York and Josh Boak in Washington contributed.

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