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Issue 1

September 27th, 2019

Cuomo and Democrats deny sexual assault allegations 

SAT. | 04-03-21 | OPINION

     Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton; President Thomas Jefferson; President Grover Cleveland; former President Bill Clinton; Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh; former President Donald Trump; President Joe Biden; former North Carolina state senator Cal Cunningham; and now New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. What could all of these government officials have in common — if it is definitely not party affiliation, what could it be? Together, these men, among many others, depict a common trend in the political sphere: sexual misconduct. 

     From adultery to harassment to rape, sexual scandals have become commonplace and even anticipated in politics. In the last few decades, though, such affairs have come to gain much more 


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public scrutiny, especially because of the #MeToo movement. Fellow politicians and citzens alike are voicing concerns when political figures face sexual assault allegations. With the Democrats in particular, though, there has been inconsistency in believing victims. The current allegations against Cuomo and past allegations against Biden have exemplified how party loyalists only believe survivors when it benefits them, delegitimizing any and all work done to support survivors. 

     In that same light, Republicans only embrace victims to make Democrats look hypocritical, not realizing that they, too, are acting with insincere motives. Democrats and Republicans alike need to be held accountable when sexual harassment allegations arise. Victims and accountability need to take priority over party image, which is why Cuomo needs to, at the very least, step down.

     On Wednesday, Feb. 24, Lindsey Boylan (former economic development advisor for Cuomo) came forward and posted her story on the online publishing platform Medium. Back in December, Boylan had tweeted to the world her initial accusations towards Cuomo, but did not delve into the entirety of her experience. In her blogspot, she begins by detailing a conversation on a plane she had with Cuomo, in which he uttered “Let’s play strip poker.” Having only read that, I was already disgusted. As she continues sharing her story, Boylan includes screenshots of emails with Cuomo’s aides and texts she sent her mom, dating back to 2016. 

     Over her years of working with the Governor, Boylan was very cautious and even tried to excuse Cuomo’s frequent harassment and inappropriate commentary as just harmless words. After he kissed her during a one-on-one meeting in 2018, though, she started speaking out to other women in his senior team. She was reprimanded and ignored as she voiced concerns, and thus resigned on Sept., 28, 2018. Looking back, Boylan states “It was all so normalized — particularly by Melissa DeRosa and other top women around him — that only now do I realize how insidious his abuse was.” Upon reading that, I thought about how Ghislaine Maxwell fueled the abuses by Jeffrey Epstein and that this trend — of upper-level women supporting men that abuse and harass other women — was, sadly, not uncommon.

      The same day Boylan posted her story, Cuomo’s Press Secretary Caitlin Girouard released a statement that “Ms. Boylan's claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false." The short press release only responded to Boylan’s experience on the plane, ignoring all other concerns Boylan had. The press release was a sham of an attempt to dismiss Boylan, but Boylan had anticipated such a response, writing: “I expect the Governor and his top aides will attempt to further disparage me, just as they’ve done with Assemblymember Kim. They’d lose their jobs if they didn’t protect him. That’s how his administration works. I know because I was a part of it.” 

      While Cuomo’s office began by denying the allegations, Tara Reade (who accused President Joe Biden of sexual assault) and Rose McGowan (who accused Harvey Weinstein) both declared their support and belief of Boylan. More so than wanting to be believed, Boylan’s goal in coming forward is to “clear the path for other women to do the same,” which is happening.

     On Friday, Feb. 27, Charlotte Bennet (former health policy advisory for Cuomo) shared her story in an interview with the New York Times. Her experience working with Governor Cuomo, and the associated frustrations she had, led her to leave politics entirely.a

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