Advocates with the New York chapter of Planned Parenthood are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo should resign immediately.
This comes after the NY Attorney General Letitia James announced the findings of an independent investigation into claims that Cuomo sexually harassed state employees.
The probe substantiated the accusations and found that Cuomo had violated state and federal law.
“The Governor was extremely inappropriate in his attempt to use survivors’ stories and experiences to discredit the allegations against him,” Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts CEO Robin Chappelle said in a statement on Tuesday. “This demonstrates a fundamental lack of empathy and understanding that his actions were wrong.”
Jennie Papkin, an advocate with RESTORE sexual assault services -- a program with Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York -- works with college and K-12 students who have experienced sexual violence.
RESTORE provides free, confidential support services to anyone impacted by sexual assault and their loved ones throughout the five-county region. Services include a 24-hour hotline, counseling, therapy, advocacy, court and medical accompaniment and education programs.
Papkin said on Wednesday that depending on what consequences Cuomo faces, if any, it will send a message to survivors of sexual violence as well as perpetrators about what is tolerated, and who is believed.
“If there isn't accountability, then a lot of survivors will feel really defeated about their chances for getting accountability for their own personal experiences and their own cases,” Papkin said. “It also sends a message to people that abuse their power in this way that they could potentially get away without repercussions.”
“I don’t like the message that sends, so I’m really hoping that there's accountability and some real action.”
On Tuesday President Joe Biden joined New York state lawmakers and others calling on Cuomo to resign. The governor has said that he will not step down.
In a statement, Chappelle said that “this deeply disturbing pattern of behavior from the Governor cannot be ignored. Andrew Cuomo has no right to lead an office, let alone the State of New York. New York needs leadership that upholds trust, dignity, and integrity within our state’s highest office.”
“Every person deserves the opportunity to have their story be respectfully heard, and to work in an environment free of harassment or retaliation,” said Chappelle. “We honor the bravery and courage of those who have come forward.”