BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Some of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s accusers reacted Tuesday after his announcement he’s resigning as governor of New York State.
Many said they’re glad the governor is no longer in a position of power. His resignation will take effect in 14 days.
Jessica Westerman is an attorney for Charlotte Bennett, the second woman to accuse the governor of sexual harassment. Bennett is a former aide who said Cuomo asked her inappropriate questions about her sex life and history as a sexual assault survivor.
“I don’t think any of us were expecting this,” Westerman said. “Charlotte did not come forward because she wanted the governor to resign. She came forward to support Lindsey Boylan.”
Boylan first accused the governor of sexually harassing her in a tweet in December of 2020. She shared more details in February of this year, saying the governor once kissed her on the lips without consent, went out of his way to touch her, and once suggested they play strip poker.
She said Tuesday she hopes this whole situation will make it easier for women to come forward and report harassment in the future.
She said in a statement:
“From the beginning, I simply asked that the Governor stop his abusive behavior. It became abundantly clear he was unable to do that, instead attacking and blaming victims until the end. It is a tragedy that so many stood by and watched these abuses happen.
I am thankful for the Attorney General, the investigators and all those who have pursued the truth despite intimidation and threats of retaliation.
Most importantly, I am in awe of the strength of the other women who risked everything to come forward. My hope always has been that this will make it safer for other women to report their own harassment and abuse. I will continue the fight to make that happen.”
The lawyer for Alyssa McGrath and Virginia Limmiatis also responded to the resignation. McGrath was an aide to the governor and said Cuomo made sexually suggestive comments and once looked down her blouse.
Limmiatis said the governor slid his fingers across her chest, over letters printed on her shirt. The women’s lawyer said they’re grateful their voices were heard. She said in a statement:
“My 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. 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.”
Bennett’s lawyer also said 11 women shouldn’t have to make these professional and personal sacrifices to have a governor that respects everyone.
“The governor’s decision to resign is a recognition that sexual harassment in the workplace is not acceptable no matter who you are.”
Attorney Debra Katz also represents Bennett and sent this statement:
“Today is a solemn day. One week after the Attorney General released a detailed report substantiating 11 women’s allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against Governor Cuomo, he had no choice but to resign.
The Governor’s decision to resign is a testament to the growing power of women’s voices since the beginning of the #MeToo movement. It underscores that sexual harassment is no longer acceptable—no matter what office the harasser holds. When Lindsey Boylan first publicly accused Governor Cuomo of sexually harassing her, the Governor’s well-oiled political machine worked overtime to discredit her. Our client, Charlotte Bennett, was not willing to sit idly by while the Governor smeared Lindsey in the press. She knew that Lindsey was telling the truth because the Governor also sexually harassed her. Charlotte made the courageous decision to detail her own allegations to the public and to share her voluminous documentary evidence with investigators. Her contemporaneous text messages and emails and her sworn testimony demonstrated incontrovertibly that the Governor sexually harassed her at work. As is often the case, courage begets courage. Soon, other women came forward to support Lindsey and Charlotte in the face of the Governor’s continuing denials, even as evidence mounted against him.
We are humbled by Charlotte’s and the other complainants’ remarkable courage in coming forward. They made that extraordinary personal and professional sacrifice because they knew what it was like to have careers derailed and relationships destroyed by a single powerful individual. They knew the pain and indignity of being sexually propositioned and groped. And critically, they wanted to make sure no other women endured the same.
The investigators in this case conducted a comprehensive investigation under intense public scrutiny. They put witnesses at ease to ensure that the public would have the benefit of everyone’s evidence, and they compiled an extremely thorough and detailed report. Their process truly was a model for how high-stakes investigations should proceed. We are deeply appreciative of their unimpeachable work. And we are sickened by the Governor’s baseless attacks against them.
The Governor’s decision to resign is not the end of our reckoning with sexual harassment, but it is an important step in the right direction.”