April 13, 2021

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Reporter accuses Gov. Cuomo of sexual harassment: ‘It wasn’t about sex. It was about power’ – Fox News

4 min read

A female reporter has claimed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo touched her inappropriately and made her feel uncomfortable in an attempt to impose his power on the young journalist, making her the the seventh accuser to come forward with claims of sexual harassment against the Democratic governor.

“I never thought the governor wanted to have sex with me. It wasn’t about sex. It was about power,” Jessica Bakeman wrote. “He uses touching and sexual innuendo to stoke fear in us. That is the textbook definition of sexual harassment.”

The New York magazine piece written by Bakeman, titled “Cuomo Never Let Me Forget I Was a Woman,” offered a first-person account of sexual harassment allegations against the embattled governor, who is now facing calls for his resignation by high-profile Democrats.

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“Andrew Cuomo’s hands had been on my body — on my arms, my shoulders, the small of my back, my waist — often enough by late 2014 that I didn’t want to go to the holiday party he was hosting for the Albany press corps at the executive mansion,” Bakeman wrote.

She was a 25-year-old statehouse reporter for Politico New York at the time and attended a party thrown by the governor despite being hesitant because of his constant touching.

“I thought if I skipped the event, I might miss out on some intangible opportunity to cement myself as a part of that community. I ignored my instincts and went anyway, walking over from the New York State Capitol Building with several colleagues,” she wrote, before noting that her gut instincts were correct after all.

“I walked up to the governor, who was in the middle of a conversation with another reporter, and waited for a moment when I could interject. He took my hand, as if to shake it, then refused to let go. 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,” Bakeman wrote.

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“My 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. 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,” she continued. “But my calculation was a bit off. I was wrong to believe this experience would last for just a moment. Keeping his grip on me as I practically squirmed to get away from him, the governor turned my body to face a different direction for yet another picture. He never let go of my hand.”

Bakeman said that Cuomo then asked, “I making you uncomfortable? I thought we were going steady.”

She said she “stood there in stunned silence, shocked and humiliated,” but felt it was the point of Cuomo’s inappropriate actions.

“I never thought the governor wanted to have sex with me. It wasn’t about sex. It was about power. He wanted me to know that I was powerless,” she wrote. “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.”

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Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bakeman wrote the party “was perhaps the most egregious example of when Cuomo sexually harassed me, but it was not the first nor the only time” and detailed other examples.

“He took my hand, pulled me into his body and put his arm around my shoulder. He left it there, and kept me pinned next to him, for several minutes as he finished telling his story. 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. Sexual harassment is so ubiquitous in Albany we often don’t call it what it is,” she wrote of a prior situation.

Bakeman is the seventh woman to come forward with allegations against Cuomo, and it is the latest in a cavalcade of accusations facing the governor, whose popularity soared in mid-2020 amid news conferences in which he presented a calm face in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic — going on to release a book about “leadership lessons.”

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New York Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jerry Nadler on Friday joined the chorus of Democrats calling for him to resign.

“Whether the governor resigns or finishes out his term or is reelected or runs for another office, his eventual departure alone will not end the legacy of sexual harassment in Albany,” Bakeman wrote.

Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.  

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