State Watch

Former reporter accuses Cuomo of sexual harassment

A former Albany reporter on Friday became the seventh woman to accuse Andrew Cuomo (D) of sexual harassment, adding to a growing pile of allegations against the embattled New York governor.

Jessica Bakeman, who worked as a statehouse reporter, detailed a number of instances in New York Magazine in which she says Cuomo harassed her. Bakeman prefaced her accounts by saying that Cuomo had put his hands “on my arms, my shoulders, the small of my back, my waist” throughout her time as a reporter in the capital. 

Bakeman wrote of one encounter in 2014 in which she went to briefly speak with Cuomo during a holiday party in which he allegedly ended up mocking her in front of her colleagues.

“He took my hand, as if to shake it, then refused to let go. He put his other arm around my back, his hand on my waist, and held me firmly in place while indicating to a photographer he wanted us to pose for a picture,” she wrote.

“I was wrong to believe this experience would last for just a moment. Keeping his grip on me as I practically squirmed to get away from him, the governor turned my body to face a different direction for yet another picture. He never let go of my hand,” she continued. “Then he turned to me with a mischievous smile on his face, in front of all of my colleagues, and said: ‘I’m sorry. Am I making you uncomfortable? I thought we were going steady.’ ”

Bakeman recounted another instance in 2012 when she attended a press gaggle with Cuomo.

“The only opening in the circle was right next to the governor, so I hovered outside the perimeter and listened. Without pausing his anecdote, he took my hand, pulled me into his body and put his arm around my shoulder. He left it there, and kept me pinned next to him, for several minutes as he finished telling his story. I stood there, my cheeks hot, giggling nervously as my male colleagues did the same. We all knew it was wrong, but we did nothing,” she wrote.

She added that she did not believe Cuomo was interested in her sexually but was asserting his power as governor.

“I never thought the governor wanted to have sex with me. It wasn’t about sex. It was about power. He wanted me to know that I was powerless, that I was small and weak, that I did not deserve what relative power I had: a platform to hold him accountable for his words and actions,” Bakeman said.

A spokesperson for Cuomo did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill regarding Bakeman’s article. 

The account was published just after a wave of House members from the state called on Cuomo to resign amid the mounting allegations against him.

“Gov. Cuomo has lost the confidence of the people of New York,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “Gov. Cuomo must resign.”

“As members of the New York delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, we believe these women, we believe the reporting, we believe the Attorney General, and we believe the fifty-five members of the New York State legislature, including the State Senate Majority Leader, who have concluded that Governor Cuomo can no longer effectively lead in the face of so many challenges,” added New York Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) and Jamaal Bowman (D).

Besides criticism from a growing number of New York’s congressional delegation, state Attorney General Letitia James (D) is investigating the allegations, and New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) this week announced that the Assembly Judiciary Committee would open an inquiry that could lead to the governor’s impeachment.

Cuomo is also coming under fire after it was revealed that his office undercounted the number of coronavirus deaths in New York nursing homes.

He remained defiant Friday, saying he would not resign. 

“Politicians who don’t know a single fact but yet form a conclusion and an opinion are in my opinion reckless and dangerous. The people of New York should not have confidence in a politician who takes an opinion without knowing the facts and substance,” Cuomo said during a press briefing on COVID-19. “People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture and the truth. Let the review proceed, I’m not going to resign, I was not elected by the politicians, I was elected by the people.”

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Andrew Cuomo Coronavirus Cuomo accusations Jamaal Bowman Jerrold Nadler Jerry Nadler New York COVID-19 nursing home scandal nursing home deaths

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