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Vera House Calls For Cuomo's Resignation As Survivors Grapple With Mixed Feelings Following AG's Report

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Don Pollard
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Gov. Cuomo gives a COVID update in June in New York City.

Survivors of sexual harassment or abuse might be having mixed reactions to an independent investigation corroborating allegations of misconduct against Governor Cuomo. Co-executive Director of Vera House Randi Bregman says they might feel a sense of justice and hope.

"The attorney general issuing such a clear report that acknowledges the truth of the survivors who had the courage to come forward not only validates survivors of other powerful people, but validates the voices and experiences of all survivors of sexual harassment," Bregman said.

"They expressed faith in the belief that although the governor may be powerful, the truth is even moreso," Co-lead independent investigator Joon Kim said Tuesday.

Bregman says while the report might encourage others in similar situations to feel more confident coming forward, it’s still not an easy journey. Cuomo has publicly denied and tried to discredit nearly every allegation and accuser, and even questioned the attorney general’s reputation and the fairness of the report.

Bregman says she’s seen many laws and policies passed in her 31 years at Vera House targeting sexual abuse, harassment, and assault. She says it’s clear the challenge to address harmful and hurtful behaviors continues.

"The governor initiated one of the broadest sexual harassment laws in the nation. Now he stands accused by an independent investigation of the very behavior that he publicly sought to end."

Bregman says wrong and intolerable behaviors aren’t necessarily illegal.

"Early truths that we heard from survivors about sexual harassment don't meet the definition of a sex crime in New York. Some of those behaviors, the verbal innuendo, that is what sexual harassment is, and it's not a crime."

But she says the law initiated by Cuomo requires all workplaces to understand what sexual harassment is, and to take action when an incident has been reported.

"Now the challenge with this is, the workplace is really the State of New York, and the question is what happens now in terms of accountability for the perpetrator."

The AG’s report did find that Cuomo violated several state and federal laws. Vera House is joining the chorus of voices calling on the governor to resign.

Bregman says any survivor triggered by the AG’s report validating the harassment allegations can call the Vera House 24 hour support line at (315) 468-3260. There’s also a chat line at verahouse.org from 8:30 am to 9 pm.