Roberta Kaplan has resigned from her position as chairwoman at the anti-sexual harassment charity Time’s Up after a report alleged she helped discredit one of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment accusers.
Kaplan – who served as the chairwoman of Time’s Up’s board of directors and co-founded its legal defense fund – resigned from the charity on Monday in a letter to board Vice President Nina Shaw.
“Unfortunately, recent events have made it clear that even our apparent allies in the fight to advance women can turn out to be abusers,” wrote Kaplan, in reference to the allegations against Cuomo, adding, “We have felt the raw, personal and profound pain of that betrayal.”
Kaplan claimed the Cuomo allegations have “raised important questions about how and why Time’s Up does what it does, as well as demands on the part of advocates and staff for a kind of radical transparency,” before concluding that she can no longer provide the transparency required due to her commitment to privacy as a lawyer.
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An independent investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James concluded last week that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women who fell victim to “unwelcome and nonconsensual touching” and “suggestive” comments which created a “hostile work environment for women.”
According to the attorney general’s report, Kaplan was involved with Cuomo’s attempts to discredit one of his accusers while employed as counsel to one of the governor’s top aides, Melissa DeRosa, who resigned on Sunday night.
After former Cuomo staffer Lindsey Boylan claimed in December that she had been sexually harassed by the governor for years and that many others had “watched” as it happened, Cuomo reportedly drafted a response which “denied the legitimacy of Ms. Boylan’s allegations, impugned her credibility, and attacked her claims as politically motivated.”
DeRosa was involved with the draft response and she reportedly sent it to Kaplan at the behest of Cuomo.
“Ms. Kaplan read the letter to the head of the advocacy group Time’s Up, and both of them allegedly suggested that, without the statements about Ms. Boylan’s interactions with male colleagues, the letter was fine,” the attorney general’s report stated, adding that though “Ms. Kaplan and the head of Time’s Up thought the letter was okay” with some minor changes, “everyone else thought it was a bad idea.” The letter was ultimately never published.
Cuomo has denied the allegations against him, claiming to have “never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.”
Specifically addressing allegations of unwanted kissing in a press conference last week, the governor argued that he “meant to convey warmth, nothing more” by kissing people on the face and that he does it “with everyone,” including those who are “black and white, young and old, straight and LGBTQ, powerful people, friends, strangers, [and] people who I meet on the street.”
Cuomo has received calls to resign from Republicans and Democrats alike, including from President Joe Biden, but the governor has so far refused.
Last week, a survey found that 59% of New Yorkers, including a majority of Democrats, thought Cuomo should resign. The same number also said that Cuomo should be impeached if he refuses, while just 11% said they would support him running for office again.
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