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The Chair Of Time's Up Resigned After Helping Andrew Cuomo Discredit A Sexual Harassment Victim

Another progressive organization, the Human Rights Campaign, is investigating its president's role in advising Cuomo on sexual harassment allegations.

Posted on August 9, 2021, at 2:45 p.m. ET

The Washington Post / The Washington Post via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on May 27, 2020, in Washington, DC

Roberta Kaplan, a lawyer who cofounded the Time's Up legal defense fund to help raise money for victims of sexual abuse and harassment, announced she would be leaving as its chair after a report into sexual harassment by Andrew Cuomo found she'd helped the New York governor discredit one of his victims.

Lars Niki / Getty Images for Help USA

Roberta Kaplan on Dec. 12, 2019, in New York City

Another progressive organization, Human Rights Campaign, is investigating its president's role in advising Cuomo on the sexual harassment allegations.

Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a damning report saying that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women.

Cuomo has denied all allegations and maintains he did not do anything wrong. The AG's report found that allegations were not taken seriously by many of his advisers and advocates.

"Unfortunately, recent events have made it clear that even our apparent allies in the fight to advance women can turn out to be abusers," wrote Kaplan in a letter announcing her resignation, published in the New York Times. "We have felt the raw, personal and profound pain of that betrayal.”

In the AG's report, it was revealed that Cuomo and his executive chamber sent a letter to Kaplan for her thoughts and legal take. The letter was written to discredit Lindsey Boylan's claims of sexual harassment as politically motivated.

Despite working for an organization designed specifically to support victims of sexual assault and harassment by powerful men, Kaplan and the president of Time's Up both agreed the letter was fine, minus some small changes, according to the AG report.

"The events of the last week have made it clear that our process should be evaluated and we intend to do just that," reads a statement from Time's Up President Tina Tchen and the organization's board on Monday.

Time's Up tried to assure supporters not to entirely dismiss the organization because of its actions involving Cuomo.

"We are counting on our sisters and allies not to lose sight of the broader work and let a man’s treachery be overshadowed in any way," the statement says. "We do not ask for a pass. We ask for perspective."

Another progressive group, Human Rights Campaign, is also investigating what role its staff may have played in protecting the governor, after its president, Alphonso David, was also mentioned in the AG report.

"Over the past several days, HRC's employees, supporters, board members and partners have raised questions about the appropriateness of Alphonso David's actions and whether they align with HRC's decades' long mission of fighting for equality and justice for all," reads a statement released Monday by board members Morgan Cox and Jodie Patterson to the Advocate.

An outside law firm will conduct an internal investigation into David's actions and whether they reflect the values of the LGBTQI rights organization.

Statement from Morgan Cox and Jodie Patterson, Human Rights Campaign and Foundation Board Chairs

Twitter: @HRC

On Sunday night, Cuomo's top aide, secretary Melissa DeRosa, resigned. In a statement first reported by NY1, De Rosa said "the past two years have been emotionally and mentally trying."

Pacific Press / Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Former secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa

Investigators found that DeRosa and others in Cuomo's executive chamber failed to follow protocols surrounding sexual harassment complaints and attempted to retaliate against Boylan, who said the governor sexually harassed her.

The report found that DeRosa had helped leak a letter to the press to discredit Boylan.

The calls for Cuomo to resign also continue, with Brittany Commisso, who was identified only as "Executive Assistant #1" in the AG's report, coming forward publicly just days after she filed a criminal complaint with the Albany County Sheriff's Office.

On Monday, members of the New York Assembly met to discuss possibly bringing articles of impeachment against Cuomo.

Speaker Carl Heastie said the "conduct by the Governor outlined in this report would indicate someone who is not fit for office" and public impeachment hearings will begin in August, after which the decision to bring articles of impeachment will be made.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.