The chair of Time’s Up, an organization that advocates for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, resigned Monday amid backlash over her ties to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who has been accused by nearly a dozen women in recent months of sexual misconduct.
Roberta Kaplan, who also co-founded the organization’s legal defense fund, said in her letter of resignation that her status as a practicing lawyer precluded her from openly answering questions about her involvement with Cuomo, reported The New York Times.
“I therefore have reluctantly come to the conclusion that an active law practice is no longer compatible with serving on the Board at Time’s Up at this time and I hereby resign,” Kaplan reportedly wrote in her letter.
In a report published by the office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James last week, investigators stated that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 current and former female employees.
Cuomo has denied the allegations, telling reporters last week that he “never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.” Despite resignation calls from some top Democrats, including President Joe Biden, Cuomo has so far refused to step down.
The state attorney general’s report also accused Kaplan of reviewing a draft of an opinion piece aimed at disparaging Lindsey Boylan, one of Cuomo’s accusers. The piece was never published.
Kaplan served as legal counsel for Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide, during the investigation. DeRosa, accused in the state attorney general’s report of spearheading efforts to discredit Boylan, announced her resignation from the governor’s office Sunday.
Kaplan’s resignation came as a group of sexual assault survivors and activists on Monday published an open letter on Medium that accused Time’s Up of “failing the survivor community,” naming Kaplan specifically in their complaint.
“Survivors are so often let down by the system of justice in this country, and it is heartbreaking to see that TIME’S UP has become a willing participant in that never-ending labyrinth,” the group wrote. “The pattern of your behavior shows you do not deserve our trust any longer without serious structural changes.”
The group also took aim at Tina Tchen, president and CEO of Time’s Up, for her alleged involvement in helping Cuomo navigate the allegations against him. The state attorney general’s report accused Tchen of also reviewing the opinion piece meant to attack Boylan.
DeRosa testified to investigators that Kaplan and Tchen suggested that “without the statements about Ms. Boylan’s interactions with male colleagues, the letter was fine.”
Tchen has denied giving any advice to Cuomo or his team. Both Kaplan and Tchen have said they would never approve an attack on an accuser.
“We were among a group of people asked for thoughts on a public response to Ms. Boylan’s allegations when they first came out in December 2020,” Kaplan said in a statement last week. “While it turns out the response was never published, I made it very clear that any response should never shame an accuser. Given the revelations in the N.Y. A.G.’s report, I support and agree with Time’s Up that Governor Cuomo should resign.”
Kaplan and Tchen co-founded the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund in early 2018 amid the worldwide Me Too reckoning on sexual harassment and assault. The group has raised over $24 million since its creation and has paired more than 4,000 survivors with lawyers, according to CBS News.