NEW YORK (WETM) – News of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation was quick to send shockwaves across New York just one week after the Attorney General’s report found substantial evidence that the governor sexually harassed multiple women.
The governor, who was initially defiant and rejected calls to resign, announced he would step down so that the government could focus on COVID-19 pandemic recovery without the distraction of a lengthy impeachment trial.
The resignation will go into effect Aug. 24, at which point Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will take over as governor for the remainder of Cuomo’s term.
The surprise announcement Tuesday afternoon created a flurry of responses.
Attorney General Letitia James, who launched the investigation into Cuomo, thanked the governor for his contributions to New York, but also considered his resignation a “step towards justice.”
A handful of the 11 women who accused the governor of sexual harassment also spoke out.
Lindsey Boylan — whose February story of alleged sexual harassment by Cuomo ignited new calls for the governor to resign — tweeted, “From the beginning, I simply asked that the Governor stop his abusive behavior.”
Mariann Wang, attorney for Alyssa McGrath and Virginia Limmiatis, said her clients “feel both vindicated and relieved that Cuomo will no longer be in a position of power over anyone.”
“His efforts, through his paid attorney, over the last few days, to gaslight and attack the brave women who came forward, apparently served no purpose,” Wang said. “Ms. McGrath and Ms. Limmiatis remain grateful that their voices and experiences were heard and substantiated by the AG’s investigators, and feel solidarity with all women who continue to be abused by men in power. At least today, one of them has faced some consequences.”
Debra S. Katz, the attorney representing Charlotte Bennett – who accused the governor of sexual misconduct in February – also put out a statement regarding Cuomo’s Resignation.
Katz said Bennett spoke out because she “was not willing to sit idly by while the Governor smeared Lindsey in the press.”
Assemblymember Anna Kelles told 18 News she believed Cuomo made the right decision, echoing the Attorney General’s message that the resignation is a step in the right direction.
“I think it’s really important in the healing process for these 11 women who did come forward and I think it’s also really important people understand that it’s not just cases of sexual harassment, it is the abuse of power,” Kelles said. “I think that anyone who read that report would feel this way. It was very intense, hard to read, extremely detailed and I think that it was the right thing to do out of respect for not only the 11 women but the many individuals who came forward to outline the years of a toxic work environment.”
On the local level, Cuomo’s resignation was also greeted with surprise. Just moments before he announced hit step-down, his attorney, Rita Glavin, spoke publically defending him.
“When this report came down there were dozens of people called for his resignation,” Glavin said. “The governor had no opportunity to respond, and journalists were saying things — that he had groped and fondled 11 women, and that wasn’t true, and that wasn’t in the report. The investigators acted as the prosecutors, judge, and jury of Gov. Cuomo. Nobody vetted the report.”
Cuomo continues to insist that he never touched anyone inappropriately and repeatedly said he’s sorry if he ever made anyone uncomfortable.