Embattled New York Governor Andrew Cuomo‘s top aide Melissa DeRosa has resigned after admitting ‘the past two years have been emotionally and mentally trying.’
DeRosa, 38, who serves as Secretary to the Governor of the State of New York, announced her departure in a statement shared Sunday evening.
She is Cuomo’s closest aide, and is quitting as he faces increasing pressure to resign over a New York Attorney General’s report branding him a sex pest.
‘It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve the people of New York for the past 10 years,’ DeRosa said in a statement. ‘New Yorkers’ resilience, strength and optimism through the most difficult times has inspired me every day.
‘Personally, the past two years have been emotionally and mentally trying. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such talented and committed colleagues.’
Andrew Cuomo’s top aide Melissa DeRosa, pictured on August 2, announced her resignation Sunday night
DeRosa made history as the first woman to be appointed New York State’s Secretary to the Governor in 2013, which is the most powerful appointed official in the state.
She became became a fixture in the state’s daily COVID-19 press briefings, sitting right next to Cuomo at every meeting and played a key role in trying to limit the damage after allegations of sexual assault surfaced in the Spring.
But since the report dropped, she’s been mostly quiet and out of the public limelight since the attorney general’s bombshell report concluding that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women.
Her last public statement was on August 3 – the day the attorney general’s report was released – when she retweeted Cuomo’s 15-minute response video where he denies the allegations in the report.
But within the last couple days, DeRosa has come under fire, herself, after former colleagues ripped her as a ‘ruthless, heartless, evil human being.’
She ‘doesn’t have time for niceties’ and ‘will rip your heart out in order to get what she wants’, a former Executive Chamber insider told the New York Post.
She was also ‘the worst person I have ever worked for in my entire professional career’, the source added.
‘She doesn’t have time to get to know you as a person. You are either an individual who gets something done for her — or you’re in her way.’
While another former Cuomo staffer said DeRosa ‘doesn’t treat people well.’
‘She would dress people down for no reason or over minor stuff. I would have to think long and hard to find anyone who would say nice things about her.’
The former employee said under DeRosa ‘every problem is considered an equal crisis. Everything is treated as over the top. As a government, that’s not sustainable.’
The source added: ‘She is now going to experience the fruits of that.’
Breaking story, more to follow
The ELEVEN women from NY Attorney General’s sex-pest report on Cuomo
State Trooper #1
Cuomo is accused of sexually harassed a state trooper, referred to in the report as Trooper #1, who he hired onto his protective detail in 2017 – bending the three-year experience requirement.
Although she had only completed two years on the force, the governor reportedly wanted the unnamed trooper in his inner circle.
He is said to have asked a senior member of his security detail to add her to the team even though she did not meet the standard requirement.
‘Ha ha, they changed the minimum from 3 years to 2 just for you,’ the senior security member told the trooper in an email, which was included in the AG’s report.
Once she was on his team, he allegedly harassed her on a number of occasions, including one where he ran his hand across her stomach from her belly button to her right hip while she was holding the door open for him at an event.
‘I felt…completely violated because to me…that’s between my chest and my privates,’ the trooper said, according to Business Insider.
‘But, you know, I’m here to do a job.’
He also ran is accused ‘running his finger down her back’ while they were in an elevator together and saying ‘hey you’, and kissing her on the cheek in front of another trooper.
‘I remember just freezing, being – in the back of my head, I’m like, oh, how do I say no politely because in my head if I said no, he’s going to take it out on the detail. And now I’m on the bad list,’ the trooper said.
Cuomo also allegedly asked her to help him find a girlfriend and said he wanted someone who ‘liked pain’, and asked her why she wanted to get married, saying ‘your sex drive goes down’.
‘Trooper #1 found these interactions with the Governor not only offensive and uncomfortable, but markedly different from the way the Governor interacted with members of the PSU who were men, and she conveyed these incidents contemporaneously to colleagues,’ the report reads.
The trooper said she was afraid of being retaliated against if she were to speak out against the behavior.
The State Troopers Police Benevolent Association said in a statement on Tuesday that it was ‘dismayed and disturbed’ by the findings.
Tom Mungeer, president of the association, said: ‘I’m outraged and disgusted that one of my members, who was tasked with guarding the governor and ensuring his safety, could not enjoy the same sense of security in her work environment that he was provided.’
State Entity Employee #2
A doctor says she was sexually harassed while administering a televised COVID-19 test to Cuomo.
On May 17, 2020 Cuomo told the medic, in front of cameras ‘nice to see you doctor, you make that gown look good’.
The doctor, who appeared in full PPE gear, did not respond to his comment.
Cuomo is accused of sexually harassing the medic while she administered him a COVID-19 test in front of cameras
Cuomo allegedly made comments towards the medic that were sexual in nature. He said: ‘Nice to see you doctor, you make that gown look good’
The report also claims that before the test, Cuomo asked her not to swab him so hard that it ‘hit his brain’.
She replied that she’d be ‘gentle but accurate’ and he said ‘I’ve heard that before,’ which the doctor said was ‘implied in a sexual nature’.
The medic considered the interaction to be sexual harassment and investigators agreed.
Another unnamed ‘state entity employee’
The unidentified employee, identified in the report as ‘State Entity Employee #1,’ said she attended an event with Cuomo in September 2019.
After giving a speech, Cuomo is said to have posed for pictures with her. While the picture was being taken, he ‘grabbed her butt’.
‘The employee was shocked and discussed it with a number of friends, family and co-workers,’ the report says.
She also ‘memorialized the Governor’s inappropriate touching’ contemporaneously, but the report doesn’t say how.
‘Executive Assistant One’
Cuomo is accused of groping an executive assistant, whose identity remains anonymous, at an event last November after routinely engaging in a pattern of impropriate conduct that began in late 2019.
The report includes photos of Cuomo with a woman described as ‘executive assistant one’
The report says Cuomo repeatedly sexually harassed ‘Executive Assistant One’ when she worked for him by subjecting her to ‘close and intimate hugs’, ‘kisses on the cheeks and forehead’, ‘at least one kiss on the lips’ and ‘touching her butt’.
He allegedly referred to her and one other assistant as ‘mingle mamas’ and asked her repeatedly if she would ever cheat on her husband.
On December 31, 2019, Cuomo asked her to take a selfies of them as they worked together inside his office at the Executive Mansion.
As she held up the camera, Cuomo ‘moved his hand to grab her butt cheek and began to rub it’ for at least five seconds, the report alleges.
The assistant ‘was shaking so much during this interaction’ that the photos came out blurry — and Cuomo suggested the two sit down to take one more, the document says.
That photo, showing Cuomo smirking while he sits back on a couch with the aide, is included in the report.
The governor then allegedly told her to send the snap to another aide, Alyssa McGrath – who has also accused Cuomo of sexual harassment – and said ‘not to share the photograph with anyone else.’
The woman said she didn’t report what happened because she was terrified.
‘[T]he way he was so firm with [me] that I couldn’t show anyone else that photo, I was just terrified that if I shared what was going on that it would somehow get around,’ she told investigators.
Cuomo admitted that he and the staffer took a photo together, but said it was her idea, because ‘he does not like to take selfies.’
In November 2020, he allegedly groped her breast at the Executive Mansion in Albany.
‘For over three months, Executive Assistant #1 kept this groping incident to herself and planned to take it ‘to the grave,’ but found herself becoming emotional (in a way that was visible to her colleagues in the Executive Chamber) while watching the Governor state, at a press conference on March 3, 2021, that he had never ‘touched anyone inappropriately.’
She then confided in certain of her colleagues, who in turn reported her allegations to senior staff in the Executive Chamber, the report says.
Cuomo, in a defiant address after the report was published, presented a montage of photos of him being tactile with people such as Bill Clinton, his mother and Robert De Niro. He used the photo show to claim he was never abusive, but merely someone who frequently hugged and touched people
Cuomo, who served as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration, is seen above planting a kiss on the cheek of former Vice President Al Gore
Cuomo’s montage included another image of him planting a kiss on his mother’s forehead
Cuomo included a photo above showing the governor grabbing a young boy’s face
The assistant was summoned to the mansion under the pretext of having to assist Cuomo with a technical issue involving his phone, the Times Union reported in March.
The two were alone together on the second floor of the residence when Cuomo allegedly closed the door, reached under the woman’s blouse and began to fondle her.
‘You’re going to get us in trouble,’ the woman said she told Cuomo, who replied, ‘I don’t care,’ according to the report.
His demeanor ‘wasn’t like ‘ha ha,’ it was like, ‘I don’t care.’ . . . It was like in this – at that moment he was sexually driven. I could tell and the way he said it, I could tell,’ the woman testified.
The governor then ‘slid his hand up her blouse, and grabbed her breast, cupping her breast over her bra,’ the report alleges.
A source familiar with the incident told the newspaper that the victim had asked Cuomo to stop.
This was allegedly the only time he touched her; all other instances involved flirtatious behavior.
Boylan, who was the first accuser to speak out publicly, said that Cuomo made inappropriate remarks to her when she worked as chief of staff to the CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation.
Boylan is seen in Washington Square Park in Manhattan on March 20 at a rally demanding Cuomo resign
Cuomo said that he found her attractive and that he wanted to play strip poker.
She also said that he physically touched her on various parts of her body, including her waist, legs, and back.
She claimed that once she reported her allegations, she was victimized by his team who ran a smear campaign against her while she ran for office.
The alleged harassment took place between 2015 and 2018.
Lindsey Boylan was the first accuser to speak out publicly against Cuomo. She says he made inappropriate comments towards her and physically touched her on various parts of her body
Bennett worked briefly for Cuomo as an aide. She was a health policy adviser in the New York governor’s administration, hired in the spring of 2019 and swiftly promoted to senior briefer and executive assistant only a few months later.
AG Letitia James says her allegations that Cuomo harassed her with a series of comments are corroborated.
Among his alleged remarks are questions about if she’d date older men, asking her help to find a girlfriend, and apparently quizzing her on a sexual assault she had endured.
Charlotte Bennett, who worked for Cuomo last year, told CBS News she felt ‘vindicated’ by the report
EXCLUSIVE: “I feel vindicated,” former Gov. Cuomo aide Charlotte Bennett tells @NorahODonnell after New York’s attorney general said she believed the women who came forward saying they had been sexually harassed by the governor. pic.twitter.com/O6Iwjndwo8
Charlotte Bennett worked briefly as a an aide for Cuomo. He allegedly asked her questions about if she’d date older men, asking her help to find a girlfriend, and apparently quizzing her on a sexual assault she had endured
One of the other comments that he made was that he wanted to ride into the mountains with women.
Bennett had a friendly relationship with Cuomo due to their mutual ties to Westchester County, and saw him as a mentor.
Charlotte Bennett made notes about her experience working with Cuomo which she gave to investigators
In an interview earlier this year, Bennett said her first awkward conversation with Cuomo occurred on May 15, 2020.
The report included text messages between Charlotte Bennett and another aide, and conversations she had with her parents where she had she had a ‘great conversation’ with the ‘Governor’, and others where she says he made her feel uncomfortable.
‘The governor invited me to lift weights with him,’ she wrote in one message. ‘He challenged me to a push-up competition’.
She had told her parents how he was surprised to learn that she lifted weights and boxed, and that he had asked her to do push-ups in the office.
In another text chain she said Cuomo ‘talked about age difference in relationships,’ calling his comments ‘explicit’.
Charlotte Bennett saw Cuomo as a mentor, but she says he was clear he wanted more
The report also included messages in which Bennett tells a confidant that she was incredibly uncomfortable following an interaction in the office. Bennett said she was ‘shaking’ and ‘so upset and so confused’.
In texts to another aide, Bennett said Cuomo repeated to her ‘over and over’ that she had been ‘raped’.
Cuomo was also recorded singing the popular 1960s love song Do You Love Me?, by the Contours, to Bennett during a phone call in 2019.
According to the New York Post, Bennett initiated the phone call saying, ‘Hi, governor. This is Charlotte’.
Cuomo allegedly answered the call with ‘Are you ready? Doo, doo, doo,’ and proceeded to ask her if she was familiar with the song.
Bennett told him the song was ‘before her time’.
Cuomo allegedly continued singing, ‘Do you love me? Do you really love me? Do you love me? Do you care?’
Virginia Limmiatis worked for National Grid and was wearing a t-shirt with the company’s name written across her chest when she says she met Cuomo.
Virginia Limmiatis worked for the National Grid when Cuomo allegedly groped her
He ran his ‘two fingers across her chest, pressing down on each of the letters as he did so and reading out the name of the company as he went’.
The report says he then ‘leaned in, with his face close to her cheek, and said ‘I’m going to say I see a spider on your shoulder’ before brushing the area between her shoulder and her breasts’.
‘Ms. Limmiatis came forward in this investigation after she heard the governor state, during the March 3, 2021 press conference, that he had never touched anyone inappropriately.
‘As Ms. Limmiatis testified to us, ‘He is lying again. He touched me inappropriately. I am compelled to come forward to tell the truth… I didn’t know how to report what he did to me at the time and was burdened by shame, but not coming forward now would make me complicit in his lie, and I won’t do it.”
McGrath, 35, was the first current employee to accuse Cuomo, and works as an executive assistant.
‘In his interactions with another executive assistant, Alyssa McGrath, the Governor made inappropriate comments and engaged in harassing conduct, including: regularly asking about her personal life, including her marital status and divorce; asking whether Ms. McGrath would tell on Executive Assistant #1 if she were to cheat on her husband – and whether Ms. McGrath herself planned to ‘mingle’ with men’.
She also claimed he looked down her shirt to compliment her on her necklace, told her that she’s beautiful in Italian and kissed her on the forehead during an office Christmas party in 2019.
Alyssa McGrath was quizzed by Cuomo about her marital status and divorce and kissed on the forehead by Cuomo at an office Christmas party
Her attorney, Mariann Wang, said on Tuesday that McGrath and another accuser she represents, Virginia Limmiatis, were relieved.
The two women ‘feel profoundly grateful to the AG’s team for taking this seriously and examining their reports thoroughly and carefully.’
Wang continued: ‘Cuomo’s misogyny and abuse cannot be denied. He has been doing this for years, without any repercussions.
‘He should not be in charge of our government and should not be in any position of power over anyone else.’
Kaitlin – whose second name is not public – met the governor in 2016 at a fundraising event where they were photographed together in a dance pose.
Afterwards, she was hired by him in a junior position but given a salary of $120,000 – a figure so high she says it was laughed at in her interview.
Liss, 35, worked in the Executive Chamber between 2013 and 2015, during which time she says the governor subjected her to sexual harassment that included being called ‘sweetheart’ and ‘darling’, and placing his hand around her lower waist.
Ana Liss (pictured) worked in the Executive Chamber between 2013 and 2015, during which time she says the governor subjected her to sexual harassment that included being called ‘sweetheart’ and ‘darling’, and placing his hand around her lower waist
He also kissed her hands and cheek, she said.
Despite feeling uncomfortable, she says she did not report them because ‘for whatever reason, in his office the rules were different.’
She added: ‘It was just, you should view it as a compliment if the Governor finds you aesthetically pleasing enough, if he finds you interesting enough to ask questions like that.
‘And so even though it was strange and uncomfortable and technically not permissible in a typical workplace environment, I was in this mindset that it was the twilight zone and…the typical rules did not apply.’
Ruch was a guest at a wedding, as was the governor, in 2019 when she says he put his hands on a section of her back that was exposed by a cut-out in her dress.
She grabbed his wrist to move it away and he responded by saying ‘wow, you’re aggressive,’ according to the report.
Cuomo then grabbed her face with both of his hands and said ‘can I kiss you?’
He was pictured kissing her cheek.
Anna Ruch was a guest at a wedding, as was Cuomo, in 2019. She says he put his hands on a section of her back that was exposed by a cut-out in her dress
Karen Hinton, 62, spoke to the Washington Post about an incident in which Cuomo summoned her to his ‘dimly lit’ hotel room and embraced her after a work event in 2000.
She was not among the 11 women on who the attorney general based her report.
Hinton said that she tried to pull away from Cuomo, but that he pulled her back and held her before she backed away and escaped the room.
Peter Ajemian, Cuomo’s director of communications, told the Post that Hinton is a ‘known antagonist of the Governor’s who is attempting to take advantage of this moment to score cheap points with made up allegations from 21 years ago’.
‘All women have the right to come forward and tell their story — however, it’s also the responsibility of the press to consider self-motivation. This is reckless,’ he added.
Karen Hinton, 62, (pictured above) claims the governor summoned her to his ‘dimly lit’ hotel room and embraced her after a work event in 2000 before she managed to escape
In response, Hinton told the Post that ‘attacking the accuser is the classic playbook of powerful men trying to protect themselves’ as she said that watching Cuomo’s apologetic press conference ‘drove me crazy’.
‘I really thought the flirt wasn’t about having sex,’ Hinton said. ‘It was about controlling the relationship.’
At the time of the alleged encounter in the hotel room, Cuomo would have been leading the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Hinton was a consultant after moving to California.
The Post reports that Hinton and Cuomo have a contentious past and that they had a major blow up before she left the agency in 1999, remaining on as a consultant.
She had joined Cuomo in Los Angeles to promote a HUD program and later had dinner in his hotel before allegedly receiving a phone call from him stating: ‘Why don’t you come to my room and let’s catch up?’
Hinton said that she began to think it was unusual when Cuomo asked her to avoid being seen by Clarence Day, his longtime head of security, but that she continued to his room anyway.
‘I paused for a second,’ she told the Post about noticing the low lights in the room. ‘Why are the lights so low? He never keeps the lights this low.’
Hinton said they sat on opposite couches and talked about their work at HUD and that Cuomo asked her personal questions about her life and marriage – including if she would leave her husband.
She claims that she grew self-conscious after speaking so much about herself and went to leave.
‘I stand up and say, ‘It’s getting late, I need to go,’ ‘ she said, describing the embrace Cuomo gave her as ‘very long, too long, too tight, too intimate’.
‘He pulls me back for another intimate embrace,’ she said. ‘I thought at that moment it could lead to a kiss, it could lead to other things, so I just pull away again, and I leave.’
Hinton told the Post that she viewed the move as a ‘power play’ for ‘manipulation and control’ and that the pair never discussed the incident again, although they have remained in touch.
She has both publicly praised Cuomo and been critical of him, especially when working as press secretary in 2015 and 2016 for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, with whom the governor has an intense rivalry.
The Post spoke to two people who confirmed that Hinton had told them about the hotel incident after it happened.