NEW YORK (AP) — He said his actions had been misconstrued, his words misunderstood. He said it was cultural: He hugs, he kisses, he says “Ciao, bella.” He said it was generational: Sometimes he lapses into “honey” or “sweetheart” or tells bad jokes.
But of all New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s responses to investigative findings that he sexually harassed 11 women, one that most disturbed many women — particularly sexual assault survivors and their advocates — was his use of a family member’s sexual assault to explain his own behavior with an accuser.
“We will not be moved by Governor Cuomo’s attempts to use the stories of survivors, including those he harassed, as a shield for his own misconduct and abuse of power all while claiming the harassment was a ‘misunderstanding,’” said an open letter to be released Thursday by the National Women’s Law Center and several gender and survivor groups, demanding the Democratic governor’s resignation or removal.
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.”
“In these moments, survivor’s stories are the ones that should be elevated,” Burke said. “There are 11 women, whose stories were corroborated, who experienced harassment at the hands of the governor. His family’s story does not exonerate him, and he does not get to use someone else’s trauma as his own shield.”
The allegations that investigators said they corroborated ranged from inappropriate comments to forced kisses and groping.
In a taped statement Tuesday, Cuomo denied ever touching anyone inappropriately but apologized to two accusers, including...