Overview: Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigns amid sexual harassment allegations

Cuomo Under Fire

NEW YORK (WSYR-TV) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned amid accusations of sexual harassment, inappropriate behavior and undercounting COVID-19 deaths connected to nursing homes.

After an investigation from the attorney general’s office determined Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women — in and out of state government — the governor was initially defiant. He appeared to reject calls to resign, but announced Tuesday he would step down so that the government could focus on COVID-19 pandemic recovery without the distraction of a lengthy impeachment trial.

“New York tough means New York loving, and I love New York and I love you,” Cuomo said, “I would never want to be unhelpful in any way, and I think given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing, and therefore, that’s what I’ll do.”

The resignation will go into effect Aug. 24, at which point Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will take over as governor for the remainder of Cuomo’s term.

“Kathy Hochul, my lieutenant governor, is smart and competent. This transition must be seamless. We have a lot going on, I’m very worried about the delta variant, and so should you be, but she can come up to speed quickly,” Cuomo said.

In a statement the new New York Governor said:

“I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers. As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor.”

Kathy Hochul

Embroiled in controversy and facing a state impeachment inquiry, Cuomo quickly became politically isolated amid growing calls for his resignation from state and federal lawmakers, including previous allies President Joe Biden and New York’s U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Cuomo was already facing backlash for his administration’s undercounting of pandemic-related nursing home fatalities when a former aide, Lindsey Boylan, elaborated on harassment allegations she first made in December 2020.

Boylan said Cuomo subjected her to an unwanted kiss and comments about her appearance.

Soon after, another former employee, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo, 63, questioned her about her sex life, talked about being lonely and asked if she would be open to a sexual relationship with an older man.

Over the ensuing weeks, five more women came forward with accusations of inappropriate behavior by Cuomo. Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation determined Cuomo had harassed 11 women in total. Cuomo sexual harassment report: Read the full findings of New York AG’s investigation 

The firestorm around the governor grew after the Times Union of Albany reported that an unidentified aide told a supervisor Cuomo reached under her shirt and fondled her at his official residence late last year.

The woman hasn’t filed a criminal complaint, but a lawyer for the governor said the state reported the allegation to Albany police after the woman declined to do so herself.

The embattled politician insisted that he never touched anyone inappropriately and repeatedly said he’s sorry if he ever made anyone uncomfortable, but pointed to an ongoing independent investigation into the allegations as a means of resolving the scandal. 

Yet Cuomo’s coalition of critics expanded geographically and politically, covering virtually every region in the state and the political power centers of New York City and Washington.

The state Assembly greenlit an impeachment investigation on March 11 as lawmakers investigated whether there were grounds for Cuomo’s forcible removal from office.

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