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Cuomo’s 30 new accusers: Ex-staffers say he forced them onto anti-depressants

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A group of 30 women on Friday spoke out about the bullying and harassment they faced while working with for Andrew Cuomo as the New York Governor insists he won’t resign and is not guilty of abuse.

It came as a reporter came forward as Cuomo’s seventh accuser, claiming she endured unwanted touching and humiliating comments while covering his administration. 

Jessica Bakeman claimed in a first-person article for New York Magazine that she was sexually harassed by Cuomo on several occassions since the start of her journalism career in 2012. 

The other group of women also spoke to New York Magazine in a detailed account of the allegedly abusive environment that the governor’s aides are subjected to.

It included multiple women who claim that they were led to take anti-depressants and go to therapy for the first time in their lives after the atmosphere created by Cuomo and some of his senior aides took a drastic toll on their mental health.

One accuser revealed she had even called a suicide hotline.

A current New York state senator also spoke about the alleged intimidation tactics and power plays used by the governor, including an incident in which Cuomo kissed her on the head in front on her fiancé and asked if he was jealous.

And Cuomo’s first black speech writer has accused him of ‘racialized abuse’ which caused her to ask to be moved to another office after she claims that it became Cuomo had only hired her to ‘fill a quota’.

Jessica Bakeman claimed in a first-person article for New York Magazine that she was sexually harassed by Cuomo on several occassions since the start of her journalism career in 2012

State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi

Ana Liss

Cuomo’s fourth accuser Ana Liss, 35, (right) revealed she went on anti-depressants and called a suicide hotline while working there. State legislator Alessandra Biaggi (left) also claimed that the governor kissed her head in front on her fiancé twice

Cuomo's first black speech writer Camonghne Felix accused him of 'racialized abuse'

Cuomo’s first black speech writer Camonghne Felix accused him of ‘racialized abuse’

It comes as Cuomo’s future as governor becomes unclear with 14 out of the state’s 19 congressional Democrats calling for him to step down and all Democrats in the state senate saying that he should quit.

The claims made on Friday added to the allegations made by six women – most of whom were former aides – against the governor since December.

Bakeman added her voice as the seventh accuser as she detailed inappropiately touching by the governor as he continued to deny all of the claims.

‘He took my hand, as if to shake it, then refused to let go,’ Bakeman wrote of an interaction with Cuomo as she said goodnight at a holiday party in 2014 when she was only 25 years old. 

‘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.’ 

At the time Bakeman had been working for what is now Politico New York and claimed that red flags went up as it is her ‘job was to analyze and scrutinize him’.

‘I didn’t want a photo of him with his hands on my body and a smile on my face,’ she wrote. 

‘But I made the reflexive assessment that most women and marginalized people know instinctively, the calculation about risk and power and self-preservation. I knew it would be far easier to smile for the brief moment it takes to snap a picture than to challenge one of the most powerful men in the country.’ 

In an earlier 2012 incident while she was working for USA Today, Bakeman also claims that Cuomo kept her pinned to his side as he told a story to her male colleagues. 

‘He left it there, and kept me pinned next to him, for several minutes as he finished telling his story,’ she said. ‘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.’

The reporter, who now works in Florida, claimed that Cuomo ‘never let me forget I was a woman’ as she also alleged that he made frequent attempts to humiliated her, including calling our her purple phone instead of answering her question during a press gaggle. 

Governor Cuomo (pictured) continued to resist calls for him to resign on Friday

Governor Cuomo (pictured) continued to resist calls for him to resign on Friday

Bakeman said he humiliated her again after she shouted over a male reporter in 2014. 

‘Cuomo seemed to think the fact that I had the audacity to speak over a man was hilarious. With him, these exchanges were always meant to be a public humiliation,’ she said. 

Yet, Bakeman also claimed that she did not believe Cuomo ever wanted to have sex with her, and that it was instead about ‘power’. 

‘He wanted me to know that he could take my dignity away at any moment with an inappropriate comment or a hand on my waist,’ she states. 

‘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. 

‘He wanted me to know that he could take my dignity away at any moment with an inappropriate comment or a hand on my waist.’ 

‘The way he bullies and demeans women is different. He uses touching and sexual innuendo to stoke fear in us. That is the textbook definition of sexual harassment,’ she added.  

Cuomo's fourth accuser, Ana Liss, 35, (pictured above) also spoke to New York Magazine as she revealed how her treatment in the office led her to believe 'I was going crazy'

Cuomo’s fourth accuser, Ana Liss, 35, (pictured above) also spoke to New York Magazine as she revealed how her treatment in the office led her to believe ‘I was going crazy’

Cuomo’s fourth accuser, Ana Liss, 35, also spoke to New York Magazine as she revealed how her treatment in the office led her to believe ‘I was going crazy’. 

Liss said that she ‘started pursuing mental-health services when I was there because I thought I was going crazy. My parents thought I was going nuts’.

‘I was angry and crying all the time, and I went on Lexapro,’ she added. ‘I did call in to a suicide hotline because I felt like such a friggin’ nobody.’

She had previously told the Wall Street Journal that she had started drinking heavily while working with Cuomo’s administration before asking to be moved to another office.

And she revealed on Thursday that she was among the former aides to receive an allegedly intimidating phone call from top Cuomo aides in December after first accuser Lindsey Boylan came forward.

In her first claims earlier this month she said that the governor asked her if she had a boyfriend, touched her on the lower back during an event reception and kissed her on the hand before she asked to move from his office. 

‘I felt gross, like I was just an ornament,’ Liss said of requests for her to dress up while in the office.

She added that had ‘never felt more depleted by the male gaze’.

State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi has been among the state lawmakers calling for Cuomo's resignation

State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi has been among the state lawmakers calling for Cuomo’s resignation

‘Melissa DeRosa [Cuomo’s top aide] had Louboutins, and there were legs everywhere, and I just felt stupid,’ Liss said.

‘I was living in a place that was full of people who were mean and predatory. It ground me down to the lowest point of my life, like I was a piece of nothing and my career was going nowhere.’

State legislator Alessandra Biaggi also claimed in her conversation with New York Magazine that the governor kissed her head in front on her fiancé twice when they met at a wedding after she left his office.

She claims Cuomo asked, ‘are you jealous?’ while looking at her fiancé.

‘I didn’t feel sexually harassed. I felt like he was trying to make me feel uncomfortable, to disarm me,’ Biaggi claimed.

Biaggi had also worked for Cuomo and that his comment to her at a 2016 party at the governor’s mansion just weeks after she joined his office were also inappropriate 

She claimed that he grabbed her by the elbow and said ‘nice dance moves’ rather than welcoming her into the fold.   

Cuomo also receieved accusations of ‘racialized abuse’ by Camonghne Felix, who was his first black speech writer.

She told New York that she eventually moved to the press team after she accepted, he was never going to use her speeches.

'It's a very subtle form of racialized abuse,' Camonghne Felix has said of Cuomo's office

‘It’s a very subtle form of racialized abuse,’ Camonghne Felix has said of Cuomo’s office

‘It’s a very subtle form of racialized abuse,’ she said. ‘You know I am beneficial to you. I fill a quota. It looks good on paper, and we made sure to put press releases out. But you don’t intend to incorporate me into the government. You just like to show me to people.’

‘I probably wrote about 30 speeches or sets of remarks for him, and I think he used one,’ Felix said of the time in his administration, which she joined in 2015 as a 23-year-old. 

‘My desk was close to his office. He loved to see me, but he didn’t listen to a single word I ever said.’

Other women reiterated previous claims that they were expected to wear nice dresses and high heels in the office, with some saying they were contacted about interviewing for the governor’s administration after he met them at parties.

‘We all knew that this was only because of what I looked like,’ one former aide known only as Kaitlin said of her call. 

‘Why else would you ask someone to come in two days after you had a two-minute interaction at a party?’ 

Kaitlin said that she first met Cuomo while working at a fundraiser in 2016 and that he garbbed her into a ‘kind of dance pose’ as a photographer took their picture. 

‘This is the weirdest interaction I’ve ever had in my life. I was like, Don’t touch me. Everybody was watching,’ she remembers thinking. 

She added that she had never handed over her contact information to Cuomo’s offfice but still received as called the following week about coming to work for him. 

Kaitlin was among those who felt the pressure to dress expensively and to always look done up. 

‘I did what I could with my clothes,’ she said, ‘and it wasn’t good enough for them.’ 

She claimed that if Cuomo can into the office early it would give her less time to get ready and he would berate her with questions like ‘decided not to get ready today?’

‘I’d think, You’re such an a*****e; you know you left early so I didn’t have time,’ Kaitlin said. 

Cuomo’s team has denied that women were ever pressured on the way they dressed or to wear high heels.  

One former staffer claimed that there was a link between Cuomo’s treatment of women and the nursing home scandal. 

‘The same attitude that emboldens you to target a 25-year-old also emboldens you to scrub a nursing-home report,’ she said. 

Others have also claimed that policce came second over the governor’s public appearances. 

‘It was policy-making like paint-by-­numbers,’ one former staffer said. ‘The goal was superficial, as opposed to changing people’s lives.’ 

‘Someone from the inner circle would call and say, “The governor wants to go to Orange County. What can we announce?”‘ she added. 

protestor sits outside the New York State Capitol on Friday, following allegations that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had sexually harassed young women

protestor sits outside the New York State Capitol on Friday, following allegations that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had sexually harassed young women

A group also gathered to protest over the nursing home COVID scandal (pictured)

A group also gathered to protest over the nursing home COVID scandal (pictured)

On Friday, Cuomo refused to resign and claimed that he won’t bow to ‘cancel culture’. 

With a sprawling coalition of congressional leaders joining dozens of state lawmakers in calling for the embattled governor to step down, the Democrat hit back. 

Cuomo accused those who are calling for him to step down of ‘playing politics’, and said that as a former Attorney General, he knows that people ‘allege all sorts of things, for all sorts of reasons.’

The current New York Attorney General Letitia James is currently investigating Cuomo over the women’s complaints and over his handling of th data regarding nursing home deaths from COVID-19. 

The new calls for his resignation come a day after New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he had authorized its Judiciary Committee to start an impeachment investigation into sexual misconduct allegations that six women have made against Cuomo. 

The panel’s investigation will run parallel to one being led by AG Letitia James. 

Cuomo has asked the public to await the results of that investigation before making judgment.

The third-term governor, who took office in 2011, has pointed to his reelections as indication of strong statewide support, which was bolstered last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He also touted his administration’s passage of liberal goals such as same-sex marriage as evidence that his hard-nosed approach to politics works. 

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