Politics

NY Lt. Gov. Hochul says she's confident Cuomo's sexual harassment accusers 'will be heard and taken seriously'

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Key Points
  • New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said she is "confident" that women who have accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment "will be heard and taken seriously" in an ongoing investigation.
  • Hochul would become governor if Cuomo resigns.
  • The Democratic governor has said he will not step down in the face of allegations by former aides Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett, and other women who accused him of inappropriate comments and physical contact.
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (L) and running mate Lt. Gov. nominee Kathy Hochul take part in a campaign stop at the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council a day ahead of the Democratic primary in Midtown, New York on September 8, 2014.
Adrees Latif | Reuters

New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul — who would take power if Gov. Andrew Cuomo were to resign — said Tuesday she is "confident" women who have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment "will be heard and taken seriously" in an ongoing investigation.

Hochul's comments, made in back-to-back tweets, came a day after state Attorney General Letitia James appointed a former top federal prosecutor, Joon Kim, and employment discrimination lawyer Anne Clark to lead the probe of the Democratic governor, along with several other private attorneys.

And they came hours before the Times Union newspaper reported that a current member of Cuomo's staff recently complained that he inappropriately touched her last summer at the governor's mansion in Albany after summoning her to do work there. The complaint by that woman, who was not identified, has been sent to James' office, according to the Times Union.

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"With yesterday's announcement launching the independent investigation led by Joon H. Kim and Anne L. Clark, I am confident everyone's voice will be heard and taken seriously," Hochul wrote.

"I trust the inquiry to be completed as thoroughly and expeditiously as possible. New Yorkers should be confident that through this process they will soon learn the facts," the Democrat added.

Two former Cuomo aides, Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett, have accused the governor of sexually harassing them and making inappropriate comments. A number of other women have also come forward with stories of inappropriate comments and physical contact by Cuomo in recent days.

When Boyland and Bennett made their claims in late February, Hochul had said, "Everyone deserves to have their voice heard and taken seriously. I support an independent review."

Cuomo's office initially, and unsuccessfully tried to have a probe done by a former federal judge, and then by James and the state's top judge. James resisted that effort.

The Democratic leader of the state Senate, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, has called on Cuomo to resign, as have a number of other Democratic politicians. The Democratic speaker of the Assembly, Carl Heastie, did not explicitly call for his resignation, but has said he shares Stewart-Cousins' "sentiment."

"We have many challenges to address, and I think it is time for the governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York," said Heastie. He called the allegations "deeply disturbing."

Cuomo has repeatedly refused to resign, even as more women have made complaints about his conduct.