The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) stands shoulder to shoulder with the survivors who have bravely come forward to report their experiences of sexual harassment and violence at the hands of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. We join the growing number of New Yorkers and others calling for the Governor’s resignation, in light of the scathing report released on Monday by New York Attorney General, Letitia James.
The report from independent investigators appointed by Attorney General James concluded that Governor Cuomo engaged in sexual harassment against multiple people, including former and current State employees and others outside of State government. James said Tuesday that her investigation found that Cuomo engaged in “unwelcome and non-consensual touching,” and made comments of a “suggestive” sexual nature. James said that the conduct created a “hostile work environment for women.”
AVP also commends Attorney General James and the investigators who worked so diligently to bring this violence to light. At AVP, we work directly with hundreds of survivors of sexual harassment and violence every year who are often disbelieved and demonized.
AVP condemns all incidents of sexual violence, including sexual harassment in the workplace. As the largest LGBTQ-specific anti-violence organization in the country and New York State’s only LGBTQ-specific rape crisis provider, we recognize that sexual violence impacts all communities and that we must continue to fight to prevent it at every level of society, especially in our highest offices of power. And when sexual violence occurs, we must demand accountability and a commitment to changing the conditions that led to the violence.
We are dismayed and angered by the Governor’s continued dismissal of the survivors’ experiences, claiming that “they heard things I just did not say,” ignoring the seriousness of his actions by characterizing them as “everyday interactions” and “meant to convey warmth and nothing more.” This is another critical moment for our society. We need to send a clear message about the necessity of consent and bodily autonomy for all people, regardless of gender and sexual orientation. We must listen to and believe survivors.
AVP’s Executive Director, Beverly Tillery, who serves on the New York City Commission on Gender Equity and the New York State Commission on Women and Girls’ Steering Committee, shares: “In view of this damning report, it is time for Governor Cuomo to step down. It is clear he must stand aside so that New York can take real steps to support survivors of violence and help end sexual harassment and gender-based violence in our state. We are moved by the survivors’ vulnerability as they have their stories shared with the world. At AVP, we believe it is imperative that we listen, trust, and honor their courage. Standing up against all forms of violence is key to preventing further violence.”
AVP understands that reports such as these can be difficult for survivors and others in our community to hear. As always, AVP is here for members of the LGBTQ community who may be traumatized or triggered by these news stories.
If you have experienced or witnessed violence, or need support, you can always reach out to our 24/7 bilingual (English/Spanish) hotline at 212-714-1141 or report violence online.