NEW YORK — Survivors of sexual assault and harassment are hoping the focus on the issue in New York will turn it into action.
Many of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s critics, and even one of his most outspoken accusers, Lindsey Boylan, took part in a Zoom roundtable Friday calling for better state laws to support survivors who come forward.
Boylan was the first of multiple women to accuse Governor Cuomo of sexual harassment, including an unwanted kiss. She worked for Cuomo for three years and is currently running for Manhattan Borough President.
Cuomo, who did not take questions during his one event Friday, has admitted to comments that made women feel uncomfortable, but denied physical touching.
“It’s time that lawmakers step up and pass legislation to deliver on better protections for workers and send a message that survivors matter,” Boylan said.
On the Zoom forum were a number state lawmakers who were sexual assault and harassment survivors themselves. All were outspoken Cuomo critics who said more needed to be done right now.
“The sexual harassment and allegations of sexual assault at the hands of Governor Cuomo have only made that even clearer to those of us in the legislature,” said State Sen. Julia Salazar of Brooklyn.
Separately Friday, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for the first time offered an extended explanation of her call for Cuomo to resign while appearing on “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC.
Noteablely, Gillibrand was quicker push for Minnesota Sen. Al Franken to resign for similar reasons in 2018. She has face criticism for the decision.
“I’m not convicting anybody of anything,” Gillibrand said. “I’m not punishing anybody for anything. I’m just giving my opinion, and now the governor has said: ‘I’m waiting,’ which is his right, which Al Franken chose not to do.”
Gillibrand is also a former attorney with Davis Polk, the law firm hired to lead the Cuomo impeachment investigation in the State Assembly. Several of the governor’s accusers, including Boylan, have said they distrust the three person Davis Polk team and will not cooperate.
Gillibrand defended her former firm.
“I know the people we are talking about,” the senator said. “A lot of people don’t, so I understand their worry, but my knowledge of the firm and the three individuals. This is an outstanding team who will take this extremely seriously.”