Comment made by Gov. Cuomo sparks criticism from sexual harassment victims, advocates
A comment made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently is drawing strong criticism from sexual harassment victims and advocates.
Cuomo said, "If I just made you feel uncomfortable that is not harassment, that is feeling uncomfortable."
That comment sparked controversy over the governor suggesting that harassment is in the ear of the listener and not in the intentions of the alleged harasser.
Cuomo defended himself saying, "I never said anything I believed was inappropriate. I never meant to make you feel that way. You may hear it that way, you may interpret it that way. And I respect that but harassment is not making someone feeling uncomfortable. That is not harassment."
The comments are in contrast to what Cuomo said in March, when he apologized for making women feel uncomfortable.
“I’m sorry for any pain that I caused anyone,” Cuomo says. “I never intended it.”
Victims and advocates say Cuomo's ignorance of the state's anti-harassment law, a statute that he signed in 2019, is concerning.
The law reads in part -- "Sexual harassment also consists of any unwanted verbal or physical advances, sexually explicit derogatory statements or sexually discriminatory remarks made by someone which are offensive or objectionable to the recipient, which cause the recipient discomfort or humiliation, or which interfere with the recipient's job performance."
Charlotte Bennett, one of Cuomo’s accusers, responded on Twitter, saying “the issue is about his actions, it is not about my feelings.”
Keith Scott, of the Safe Center, says, "In nowhere does the sexual harassment law say the behavior has to be targeted to make someone purposely feel uncomfortable. it's an unwanted, unwelcomed behavior."
North Merrick resident D.J. Rosenbaum says that the comment is “victim-blaming.”
At least eight women have come forward alleging Cuomo touched them or made comments that made them uncomfortable. The allegations are under investigation by the state Attorney General's Office.
The governor says he looks forward to telling his side of the story once the probe is completed.