NEW YORK, Aug 4, CMC – Caribbean American legislators in New York have joined other elected officials in calling on New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, to resign after a state investigation report found that he had fostered a culture of workplace misconduct and had sexually harassed numerous women.
Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, joined Democratic members of the New York congressional delegation in renewing their call on Cuomo to step down.
“Let me be very clear, I reiterate my call for the governor to step down and applaud Attorney General (Letitia) James for conducting such a comprehensive investigation. Full stop,” Clarke, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
“Sexual harassment is extremely serious, and no one is above the law. The glaring examples of sexual harassment, coupled with retaliatory behavior and the attempting to disparage the strong enough women to come forward, are disappointing and unacceptable.
“I echo Attorney General James in saying ‘No man, no matter how powerful, can be allowed to harass women or violate our human rights laws, period,” said Clarke, adding “there must be a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment, and now is the time to send a clear message this behavior is not and will not be tolerated.”
Clarke’s call was echoed by several New York Democratic representatives including Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Brian Higgins, Nydia Velazquez, Ritchie Torres, Kathleen Rice, Grace Meng, Adriano Espaillat, Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
New York State Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, the Haitian American chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, said the Attorney General’s 168-page report contains findings of sexual harassment and misconduct involving 11 victims, “which are extremely troubling and reprehensible.
“My full sympathy goes out to the brave victims who endured these egregious experiences, but took heroic steps forward to provide evidence and live testimonies for the public of the disturbing behavior and abuse in a work environment ‘filled with fear and intimidation,’” said Bichotte Hermelyn, the daughter of Haitian immigrants.
“As a childhood sexual abuse survivor who also endured sexual harassment throughout my career, these testimonies triggered an emotional disturbance,” added the representative for the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn.
“There is absolutely no room for this abuse, especially with elected officials who’ve been entrusted to fight it. Governor Cuomo’s conduct found in the report is heinous and gross abuse of power. The conduct by Governor Cuomo found in the report indicates that he is unfit for office and should step down and resign.”
Soon after the independent investigators appointed by James released their report on Tuesday, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams called on Cuomo to resign immediately.
“The Attorney General’s investigation confirmed today what we’ve known since the first courageous women came forward with their experiences – the governor repeatedly, with intent and without care for the pain he caused or concern for consequences, sexually harassed multiple women, violating the law and the standards which we must demand, especially of our elected officials,” said Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants.
“A thorough, independent process documented these patterns of abuse, creating a space for voices to be heard while many were trying to silence or ignore them. I thank the women who came forward to reveal these truths and seek justice in the face of the deflections, denials, and excuses by the governor and those he empowered. There is no excuse. And there can be no denying the need for justice.
“Andrew Cuomo has acted for his entire career with abusive impunity, but his shamelessness cannot equate with immunity,” Williams said, adding “he created a culture of abuse, which he has long employed to evade accountability, but the creation of that culture itself demands accountability.
“He cannot continue to serve as governor, and must resign immediately or be impeached expeditiously.”
Queens, New York Borough President, Donovan Richards, Jr., who traces his roots to Jamaica, applauded Attorney General James “for overseeing this investigation with the utmost integrity and respect.
“Today, I am especially thinking of all the survivors who are in pain due to the governor’s behavior. I hope they feel justice was partially served today, and it is now up to the State Legislature to complete.
“I hope the Assembly swiftly moves forward with impeachment proceedings if Governor Cuomo does not resign,” Richards said, adding “New Yorkers deserve better, and the governor should resign.”
After nearly five months, the investigators concluded that Cuomo did sexually harass multiple women, including former and current state employees, by engaging in unwanted groping, kissing and hugging, and making inappropriate comments.
“Further, the governor and his senior staff took actions to retaliate against at least one former employee for coming forward with her story,” said James, adding that the Executive Chamber fostered a “toxic” workplace that enabled “harassment to occur and created a hostile work environment.”
The investigators found that 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.
“This is a sad day for New York because independent investigators have concluded that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and, in doing so, broke the law,” James said.
“I am grateful to all the women who came forward to tell their stories in painstaking detail, enabling investigators to get to the truth. No man, no matter how powerful, can be allowed to harass women or violate our human rights laws, period,” she added.
But Cuomo has vehemently dismissed the report’s finding, reiterating his contention that he had never touched anyone inappropriately, stating “the facts are much different from what has been portrayed.
“I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” he said in a pre-recorded message on Tuesday.
“I am 63 years old. I have lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am, and that’s not who I have ever been.”