Cuomo Under Fire: Local reaction to the allegations of sexual harassment

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(Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

(WETM) – Governor Cuomo’s apology was “not enough” for the survivors, who allege he behaved inappropriately and sexually harassed them. Last night, Charlotte Bennett became the first survivor to share her story to the press. Advocacy groups in New York State are also calling for the Governor to take ownership of his actions.

“We invite the Governor to seek opportunities for accountability whether it is gaining an understanding of how your behaviors have impacted others, making amends with the harmed parties if they are receptive to it, and demonstrating that we have changed our behaviors, so that harm, harassment or abuse will never happen again,” NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault Communications Director Chelsea Miller said.

The New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault says there are resources available for survivors of sexual violence.

“The New York State Hotline for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence is a 24/7, confidential, and free resource that can help connect you with an advocate in your community. Advocates in New York State’s community-based sexual violence and domestic violence programs provide crisis counseling, emotional support, medical and legal advocacy, and can help you identify the next steps in your healing journey. Call the hotline at 1-800-942-6906. This service is available for survivors of sexual harassment, assault, abuse, and domestic violence, and their loved ones.”

The New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault

According to a New York Times report, Anna Ruch has come forward, saying the Governor placed his hands on her lower back. When she removed his hand, he said she was being “aggressive”. Then, he put his hands on her cheeks, asking if he could kiss her. Governor Cuomo has issued an apology saying his actions and words were misunderstood and that he grants Attorney General Letitia James subpoena power to investigate. The Governor’s office will comply with the Attorney General’s investigation.

“The constant drip, drip of new accusations coming out just coming out yesterday. How many more are going to come?” Senator Tom O’Mara said.

One local advocacy group is not surprised by the slow trickle of accusers coming forward because this is something we have seen in the past.

“We’ve seen with cases for example with the Catholic Church or with other institutions with high profile individuals where there have been allegations of abuse that one disclosure may lead to others. There is support available throughout the Southern Tier. There are hotlines available with trained counselors advocates who can provide support and help people understand what their options are and help people plan for their safety and heal,” Advocacy Center of Tompkins County Executive Director Heather Campbell said.

This investigation comes amid several other incidents this year, including the nursing home scandal and the call with Assemblymember Ron Kim, where Governor Cuomo is accused of threatening him. Now, six Democrats in the legislature are calling for his resignation, saying impeachment proceedings are appropriate at this time.

“The allegations are outrageous. We need a full and thorough investigation into this. To find out that the Governor has to approve an investigation of himself… I think we are going to be looking at ways we can change that legislation or at least that part of it. Make it so the Attorney General can conduct an investigation and convene a grand jury to put people under oath,” Senator O’Mara continued.

Senator O’Mara went as far as to say the Governor should stand trial in front of a Grand Jury. He believes this is an unlikely scenario at this point and was hoping for a smaller step forward: the removal of the Governor’s emergency powers. Late today, lawmakers struck a deal to remove these powers the Governor granted himself nearly one year ago when the pandemic began.

“If this comes up proven true, he should be resigning from office. He shouldn’t be in office if that’s the case. I think there’s a lot of questions out there that wonder if he’s able to even do his job,” Assemblymember Palmesano added.

The latest Emerson College and NewsNation poll found Governor Cuomo in a precarious position, as his job approval drops below 40 percent.

According to the poll, nearly 40 percent of voters think the claims of sexual harassment are ground for resignation, while 34 percent believe otherwise. The remaining 29 percent are unsure if he should resign at this time.

This is a developing story and 18 News will bring you the latest on air and online.

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