Updated: March 03, 2021 11:10 PM
Created: March 03, 2021 10:31 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Support centers are weighing in on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's apology. Wednesday was the first time he publicly addressed sexual harassment allegations against him. Some victim's advocates have labeled the governor a hypocrite and what action they say he should take to prove his apology was sincere.
Local advocates for victims of sexual assault and harassment are calling the allegations against the governor "startling." They say, for a governor that has proclaimed himself as the champion for gender equality in New York State over the last few years, these allegations make him seem like a hypocrite.
During a press conference Wednesday, Cuomo addressed the allegations publically, saying, "I feel awful about it, and frankly, I'm embarrassed by it.”
"He's embarrassed because he got caught, he's not embarrassed because he has yet to apologize to anyone, and in the world of political speak they'll say you can't apologize because then you're admitting guilt,” Alli O'Malley told News10NBC.
O'Malley serves as the Vice President of Survivors Advocating for Effective Reform (SAFER).
O'Malley says up until now she's believed the governor has had a progressive agenda for women. During his tenure, he's implemented some of the most strict sexual assault and sexual harassment legislation in the country.
"He's imposed that legislation throughout the state who have requirements to train every single year about what sexual harassment looks like and to hear what these young women are saying he did, it’s like straight out of the manual,” O'Malley said.
The New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA) says there is always room to learn more about and practice what "consent" means.
"We ask for consent before we touch people, we ask for consent in many ways like 'Can I ask you this question?'” Chel Miller, the communications director for NYSCASA, said.
Miller added that during the public apology, the difference between intent and impact was brought up. They feel a public apology means nothing until there is a level of accountability.
"While we wait for the attorney general investigation to conclude we invite the governor to seek support and identify opportunities for himself to pursue meaningful accountability,” Miller added.
Some of those opportunities include making amends with the involved parties and changing behaviors.
RESTORE, another support group in Monroe County, released a statement to News10NBC saying, “To individuals who have experienced harassment and violence – we stand with you. You are not alone. Every survivor deserves respect, safety, support, and validation. An independent investigation of the allegations against Governor Cuomo must be completed in a way that is responsive and transparent, and we believe Attorney General Letitia James is the right person to undertake the process. These will be necessary steps on a path to restore trust and ensure accountability."
Cuomo says he will "fully cooperate" with the attorney general’s investigation into the allegations, but he's not resigning.
Copyright 2021 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company