Governor Cuomo’s Sexual Assault Allegations: Another Man Abusing His Power

Halima Osman, Contributing Writer

From December 13, 2020, to March 8, 2020, six women spoke out with sexual assault allegations against current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Allegations ranged from invasive conversations about women’s sex lives, to unwanted kissing and groping. These six allegations have been raised by Lindsay Boylan, Charlotte Bennet, Anna Ruch, Ana Lise, and Karen Hinton, all of whom were either former staffers, aides, or social acquaintances of Governor Cuomo.

When these allegations initially came out, Cuomo vehemently denied them all. He constantly referred to his stance on sexual assault and how much he disagreed with women being disrespected. In many ways, it came off as if he was using his stance on sexual assault as a way to excuse his own actions. Many men of power use their “progressive” stance on sexual assault to justify the fact that they couldn’t possibly commit a horrid act, because apparently if you disagree with something then you definitely can’t be someone who did it. That in itself is revolting, because the pain those women feel can’t be excused away.

At a press conference on December 14, 2020, where he was asked about his recent allegations, he blatantly denied them. In a video posted by NBC News,  the Governor said, “I believe a woman has the right to come forward … but it’s just not true.” He then moved on with the press conference as if nothing had happened, disregarding the importance of the issue that was presented and taking away even more power from the women who have come forward and other victims of assault. Later, on March 3rd, in an interview posted by Yahoo News, he contradicted himself, “I never touched anyone inappropriately,” Cuomo said, “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable and if I ever did make people feel uncomfortable, which I now understand that I have, I apologize for it.”

Cuomo, a 63-year-old white man, has been serving the state of New York as the Democratic governor for the past 10 years. During his time in office, Cuomo voiced support for the protection of women against sexual assault and misconduct multiple times. Early in 2020, he revealed his plans for his 4th proposal, a plan aimed to, “close the rape intoxication loophole.” The goal is to address the lack of protection for women who are raped or assaulted in New York, whether or not they were willingly or unwillingly under the influence of drugs or alcohol. His statement regarding the proposal, as written on the New York State website, reads, “Our laws must protect the people of this state—not condone rape as a punishment for consuming alcohol. With this proposal, we are saying enough is enough and taking action to close this nonsensical loophole and help end the culture of abuse once and for all.”

In many ways, it came off as if [Cuomo] was using his stance on sexual assault as a way to excuse his own actions.

This is ironic because he chose not to acknowledge the allegations fully or take responsibility for his actions, even though his campaign gained support due to advocacy on behalf of women who are victims of assault or rape. On March 12, Cuomo confirmed that he would not be resigning, and urged the people of New York to wait until the New York Attorney General office came to a conclusion as to whether these allegations are true. The day before, on March 11th, an investigation into whether or not Cuomo would be impeached had begun.

But, of course, his call for the New York public to wait didn’t stop them from debating his future in  the state. Many have made comments saying how they stand with him because of his previous positive work, others are disagreeing and pushing harder for him to resign.

To me, this isn’t just a debate about him but rather about political parties. Just because someone is a governor who stands with a party that supposedly believes in protecting women, all while ignoring the women who have spoken out against him, doesn’t mean that he should be excused. People who are in power should be held accountable for their actions regardless of their political affiliations. Had a Republican governor been accused of similar offenses in our current political climate, Democrats would’ve been outraged. Back in 2017 when allegations of Trump assaulting numerous women were brought to light, Democratic Senators such as Cory Booker, Jeff Merkely, and many more all called for him to resign. Now, these Senators have yet to make a statement on the given situation.

But now, since it’s an esteemed governor on the left, he is still held with high regard by the media. The stories of these women coming out have been swept under the rug. Cuomo’s own brother, Chris Cuomo, who is an anchor on CNN, has yet to speak about these allegations, even though he refers to himself as a fair and honest man who holds all accountable. Meanwhile, women like Lindsay Boylan are living in a constant nightmare because a man couldn’t learn to respect boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed. If that wasn’t hard enough, being questioned makes it so much worse. Questioning a survivor of sexual harassment is disgusting and this behavior should no longer be tolerated. It’s beyond time for men, especially those men in power, to be held accountable for their actions, especially ones that can change a woman’s life forever.