Vox Pop: New Yorkers Offer Divided Reactions to Cuomo Sexual Harassment Scandal

Critics of the scandal-plagued governor say he should step down or be impeached while others urge for more time to prove his innocence.

Zion DeCoteau Aug 9, 2021

A report by Attorney General Letitia James has concluded that the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women between 2013 and 2020. 

The independent investigators appointed by New York Attorney General Letitia James led by Joon H. Kim and Anne L. Clark said, “Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women — including former and current state employees — by engaging in unwanted groping, kissing, and hugging, and making inappropriate comments.” 

Their report went on to find that  “the governor and his senior staff took actions to retaliate against at least one former employee for coming forward with her story.” The investigators argue Governor Cuomo’s actions and those of the Executive Chamber violated multiple state and federal laws, as well as the Executive Chamber’s own written policies.

Several prominent Democrats such as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and President Joe Biden — who him self was accused of sexual harassment during his presidential campaign — have called on the three term democratic governor Cuomo to resign. 

The Indypendent headed to the steps of Brooklyn’s Borough Hall to find out whether or not New Yorkers believe the governor should step down. 

Given the nature of the story, interviewees requested that we not take their photographs.

Elizabeth F.; Brooklyn 

What Governor Cuomo did was inappropriate behavior for the workplace. I know he thinks it was innocent, but it was harmful. He is a great governor and he did so much for us in terms of COVID, at the same time he tried to excuse his sexual harassment by saying it was a like friendly, cultural thing. If he had taken responsibility and said, “I know it’s inappropriate and I won’t do that,” that might be a different story. But at this point I trust Biden’s opinion, and if he said that, [Cuomo] should resign.

G.T.; Sugar Hill/Harlem, Manhattan 

“He should have the right to a fair trial … I don’t think he should get [removed from office] unless the people that he harassed pop up to court and they testify against him. Just like Bill Cosby. The majority of the women came to court, it was a he-say-she-say and at the end of the day he has a right to prove if he’s innocent. 

Temi; The Bronx

With what he did during the covid-19 saga, I was actually impressed. I see the way he talks, he talks with a lot of body gestures. In my own opinion, he said people were actually misinterpreting what he did, which he said he never meant anything. So I’m going by what he said. Trump did not like him so I’m seeing it as some things that were set against him.

Jason Ginsberg; Downtown Brooklyn 

I think the preponderance of evidence, and the number of witnesses indicates that he did it, and he violated the law, and he violated his principles of ethics, and didn’t live up to his responsibilities as governor.

Sophie; Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn 

I think the allegations are pretty clear and believable and that kind of behavior is totally unacceptable and I think that the governor has no choice but to resign.

Ellen; Upper East Side, Manhattan 

One thing that happened in this case that didn’t happen in many cases in this Me Too movement is there was actually an investigation by law enforcement — and it doesn’t always have to be by law enforcement — by a body that actually spent the time to give due process. They have investigated and Tish James has found that he’s responsible for sexual harassment and given that I think he should resign.

Zoe; Gowanus, Brooklyn 

I feel really confident in the Letitia James investigation and I think because of the volume of the people that were interviewed and the pattern of behavior and the pattern of intimidation, he should resign.

M.M.; Brooklyn; asked not to be directly quoted

Said she’s worked in offices and that “we all” as women have experienced it. She added that it’s time for powerful men to be held accountable, and if Cuomo is guilty he should be prosecuted accordingly. However, she added that there are many women who would “sell their soul” using sexual favors for career advancement, and claim assault afterwards.

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