Roberta Kaplan, who helped Cuomo, resigns from Time’s Up
Roberta A. Kaplan, the chair of Time’s Up and co-founder of the Legal Defense Fund, resigned from the organization on Monday after criticizing her ties to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and her involvement in discrediting the woman who accused him of sexual harassment.
In a report from the Attorney General’s office finding that Mr. Cuomo sexually molested eleven women, most of them current or former state employees, investigators said Ms. Kaplan reviewed a draft derogatory comment aimed at the attack the character of Lindsey Boylan, the first woman to publicly accuse Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment.
Ms. Kaplan said in a letter resigning from the group that was formed to advance gender equality and fight sexual abuse, that because of her work as a practicing attorney, she did not openly ask questions about her involvement with Mr. Cuomo or Melissa DeRosa, a former top adviser to the governor whom Ms. Kaplan represented in the attorney general’s investigation.
“I have therefore reluctantly come to the conclusion that an active legal practice at this point in time is no longer compatible with a board position at Time’s Up and I hereby resign,” said Ms. Kaplan.
Ms. DeRosa, who investigators said was leading the effort against Ms. Boylan, announced her resignation from the Cuomo administration on Sunday.
The commentary in which Ms. Kaplan was involved was never published. It was part of a wider effort in which Mr Cuomo and his staff sought advice from former administrators, including Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest political lobbying organization on LGBTQ; Tina Tchen, the managing director of Time’s Up; and the governor’s brother, Chris Cuomo, a presenter on CNN.
All of these characters have come under fire for their ties to Mr. Cuomo, but criticism of Ms. Chen and Ms. Kaplan has been particularly harsh in light of Time’s Up’s mission.
On Monday morning, a group of sexual harassment and assault survivors released an open letter to Time’s Up board of directors saying the organization had betrayed its ideals. “TIME’S UP let down the very people it was supposed to stand up for,” the letter said published on mediumsaid. “The board continues to disregard the outcry of the survivors. Time’s Up leaves all survivors in the lurch. “
In her letter of resignation, Ms. Kaplan confirmed the gravity of the findings of the Attorney General’s report. “Unfortunately, recent events have made it clear that even our seeming allies in the struggle to promote women can turn out to be abusers.”
Ms. Kaplan, a prominent attorney who helped win the battle to legalize gay marriage, represented Time’s Up’s promise, established after Harvey Weinstein’s revelations: that high-profile women capitalize on their connections and influence could in order to harden themselves protection and promote gender equality.
Understand the scandals that challenge Governor Cuomo’s leadership
But the allegations against Mr. Cuomo – an ally of the organization who worked with them to strengthen the laws in New York – have challenged that deal.
Ms. Kaplan found herself in a particularly difficult position. Ms. DeRosa is represented by Ms. Kaplan’s law firm, and Ms. DeRosa testified in the Attorney General’s investigation that Ms. Kaplan was her attorney. When asked by the New York Times whether she ever advised Ms. DeRosa beyond the comment, Ms. Kaplan declined to respond.
“Today is a very sad day,” Ms. Kaplan said in an email to the Times. “I will miss the time I spent with this board and our sisterhood so much. I hope that they can stick together and continue this important work. “