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Cuomo accusers ‘vindicated and relieved’ as New York governor resigns

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Two more women who identified themselves as victims of New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s pattern of sexual harassment in the workplace came forward on Tuesday to add their voices to the reaction to his resignation announcement.

An attorney for the two women said her clients were “vindicated and relieved that Cuomo will no longer be in a position of power over anyone”.

Mariann Wang represents Alyssa McGrath and Virginia Limmiatis.

McGrath, an executive assistant, said Cuomo had made inappropriate comments, including commenting on her neckline after staring down her loose shirt, regularly asking about her marital status and asking whether she would tell on another aide if she were to cheat on her husband.

Limmiatis is an energy company worker who said Cuomo had run his fingers on the lettering across the chest of her shirt when they met in a rope-line greeting at a 2017 event.

He then told her he was going to say there was a spider on her shoulder and proceeded to brush her chest with his hand.

Wang castigated what she described as Cuomo’s efforts to “gaslight and attack the brave women who came forward”, which ultimately “apparently served no purpose”.

Lindsey Boylan, another former Cuomo aide who spoke out publicly early on and who investigators described as having been subjected to retaliation by Cuomo and his office when she did so, said: “From the beginning, I simply asked that the governor stop his abusive behavior.

“It became abundantly clear he was unable to do that, instead attacking and blaming victims until the end. It is a tragedy that so many stood by and watched these abuses happen. I am thankful for the attorney general, the investigators and all those who have pursued the truth despite intimidation and threats of retaliation.”

New York’s experienced lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, will become the first woman to hold the state governorship when she succeeds Cuomo in two weeks.

Andrew Cuomo resigns after sexual harassment allegations – video

“I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers,” she said.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters on Tuesday that Joe Biden, who had led Democratic calls for the governor to quit, had not spoken to Cuomo since the New York attorney general, Letitia James, issued the report of her five-month investigation into Cuomo’s conduct last week.

“This is a story about courageous women who told their stories,” she said.

The New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, also praised the 11 women detailed in James’s report as victims of Cuomo’s harassment.

“Make no mistake, this is the result of survivors bravely telling their stories. It was past time for Andrew Cuomo to resign and it’s for the good of all New York,” said the mayor, who has had a contentious relationship with his fellow Democrat throughout their time in office despite the level of cooperation needed between their offices.

New York’s US senators – the majority leader, Chuck Schumer, and Kirsten Gillibrand – also commended the women and spoke of the need for all leaders to work together to get the state through the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Several New York state assembly members and US representatives also welcomed Cuomo’s resignation.

It was unclear on Tuesday afternoon if the impeachment process that had been under way in the state legislature would continue.

A successful impeachment and conviction would have barred Cuomo from standing for public office again in New York.

The assembly member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn told CNN: “Resignation will not bar him from running in the future,” although it appears the impeachment process, which had been expected to continue well into September, cannot continue once Cuomo leaves office.

Hermelyn said that by speaking up “with solidarity”, victims of harassment now had a better chance of justice in a changing workplace and that their actions would encourage more women to run for office.

Andrea Stewart-Cousins, state assembly majority leader, who will step into the lieutenant governor’s shoes when she becomes governor, said: “Today is a somber day for the state of New York, but one that demonstrates our ability to build a more accountable system of government.”

Letitia James said the resignation closed a “sad chapter” but was also an “important step towards justice”.