His actions and words were misunderstood, he claimed. He claimed it was cultural. He hugged, he kissed, he said “Ciao bella”. He also said that it was generational. He sometimes falls into the “honey” and “sweetheart” category or makes bad jokes.
New York Governor. Andrew Cuomo’s responses on investigative findings that he had sexually harassed 11 females, but one that most disturbed many women — especially sexual assault survivors’ advocates — was his use a family member’s sex assault to justify his behavior with an accuser.
“We won’t be moved by Governor Cuomo’s efforts to use survivors stories, including those harassed by him, as a shield against his own misconduct, abuse of power, all while claiming that the harassment was a ‘misunderstanding,'” reads an open letter released by the National Women’s Law Center along with several other gender and survivor organizations, requesting the resignation or removal of the Democratic governor.
Tarana Burke, the survivor and advocate who gave the #MeToo movement its name, wrote in an email to The Associated Press that “abusers, no matter their own personal histories, do not get to center themselves in cases of abuse.”
Burke stated, “In these times, survivor stories are the ones that should not be elevated.” “There were 11 women whose stories were confirmed that they suffered harassment at the hands the governor. The story of his family does not exonerate him. He does not have the right to use another person’s trauma as a shield.
Investigators claimed that they were able to corroborate a variety of allegations, including inappropriate comments and forced kisses.
In a taped statement Tuesday, Cuomo denied ever touching anyone inappropriately but apologized to two accusers, including former staffer Charlotte Bennett. He said he asked Bennett about her love life in a misunderstood bid to help her cope with trauma from a past sexual assault. Cuomo spoke about a relative who had been sexually assaulted at high school.
Bennett was described by the governor as “I thought that I could help her through a difficult period.”
Emily Martin, the NWLC’s vice president for education, workplace justice, stated that Cuomo was “implying that he is someone to be admired by survivors of sexual assault,” which is particularly disturbing given what this report revealed.
Martin stated, “In some ways it reminds of the father of daughters’ comments that we hear so many men in authority make,” Martin added. “We should take their word that these people care about these matters based on their family relationships.”
Bennett called Cuomo’s apology “meaningless”
“If he were to be sorry, he would resign.” “That’s how accountability works,” she said to the AP shortly after the remarks.
Bennett stated Wednesday that he was referring to survivors of trauma and sexual abuse on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Marissa Hoechstetter, one of those survivors, was Marissa Hoechstetter. She stated that she was saddened to hear Cuomo refer to her relative’s sexual assault because “I do not want to minimize those experiences.” But, the advocate for reform New York state said, “two things could be true. It is possible for someone in your family to have suffered sexual harm. He could also have been responsible.
Hoechstetter stated, “It is so heartbreaking to see people’s trauma used to justify their own rightful opinions.”
Deborah Tuerkheimer is a Northwestern University law professor who specializes on sexual misconduct. She saw Cuomo’s comments as part of a bigger strategy to discredit his accusers, and save his political career.
Tuerkheimer stated that there are a lot of misconceptions about abusers and call them’monsters’. They have no redeeming qualities. We are more likely to believe the allegations against an accused man if he looks different than this imagined monster. This cultural bias is often exploited by accused men who strategically highlight their best qualities as evidence of innocence — perhaps empathy for victims of sexual abuse.
Indira Henard was the director of D.C. Rape Crisis Center. Her argument against Cuomo’s statement had one simple conclusion: You can’t both support survivors and discredit them in the same sentence.
Henard stated, “If you stand up and believe survivors then you will believe survivors.” “You can’t take their story apart.”
Many people also doubted the effectiveness of Cuomo’s taped statement. It was accompanied with a slideshow showing Cuomo hugging and kissing people, in benign settings.
He said, “I do kiss people on their forehead.” “I do kiss people on their cheeks. I will kiss people on their hands. I do embrace people. Sometimes I say “Ciao bella”
Red Banyan’s CEO, Evan Nierman, said it was a bold move by Cuomo to “assert that he is a serial hugger” and so none of the allegations could possibly be true. He hugs and kisses everyone.
Nierman said that there is a huge difference between proper physical contact and the types of allegations made against the governor. “I don’t believe most people will confuse the two.”
Deborah Tannen, a Georgetown University Linguistics Professor who studies cross-cultural communication and noted Cuomo’s mention of his heritage. She admitted that Italian Americans are prone to casual conversational touches, but that it’s not touching on sexual places.
She said, “That’s friendly kissing.” “So, I don’t think that is relevant to the most serious accusations.”
Many people, from crisis communication experts to survivors agreed that Cuomo’s political future is not salvageable. __S.44__
Henard stated that Henard must resign and added that if he doesn’t, he should be fired. “There is no way to go back.”