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Flashback: Cuomo told female reporter she was doing a ‘disservice to women’ for asking about his administration’s sexual harassment policies

Andrew Kerr, DCNF

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo once told a female reporter she was doing a “disservice to women” by asking a question about alleged sexual harassment policies within his administration.

New York State Public Radio capitol bureau chief Karen Dewitt asked Cuomo during a press gaggle in December 2017 what changes his administration would enact following allegations that his former economic-development official, Sam Hoyt, had harassed a woman he had an affair with while also helping her land a job in state government.

Cuomo became defensive and flipped the script on DeWitt, suggesting she should do something different about sexual harassment in the media.

“Well, look, you have it going on in journalism,” Cuomo said. “What are you going to do differently?”

“I think you miss the point. When you say, ‘It’s state government,’ you do a disservice to women, with all due respect, even though you’re a woman,” Cuomo said.

“It’s not government. It’s society. It was Harvey Weinstein in the arts industry. It’s comedians. It’s politicians. It’s chefs, right? It’s systemic.”

A federal judge ultimately dismissed a lawsuit filed against Hoyt regarding the matter in February 2019, according to The Buffalo News.

Cuomo now faces his own allegations of sexual misconduct from three women.

The latest accuser, Anna Ruch, said Cuomo put his hand on her bare lower back during a wedding reception in September 2018. Ruch said after she removed Cuomo’s hand from her back, the governor said she was “aggressive,” placed his hands on her cheeks and asked if he could kiss her.

Two former female employees of Cuomo, Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett, have also accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Cuomo said during a press conference Wednesday that he “never touched anyone inappropriately.”

“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it and frankly embarrassed by it and that’s not easy to say but that’s the truth.”

Multiple New York state Democratic politicians have called on Cuomo to resign following the allegations. New York Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice has also called on Cuomo to step down from office.

Cuomo said Wednesday he’s not going to resign.

Rich Azzopardi, a top Cuomo aide, told THE CITY in late February that Cuomo had received sexual harassment training that he mandated in the wake of the #MeToo movement in October 2019.

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