Roberta Kaplan, a prominent progressive lawyer and leader of the gender-equality group Time’s Up, resigned from the organization on Monday amid backlash over her role advising New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and engaging in an effort to discredit one of the women accusing him of sexual harassment, the New York Times first reported.
Kaplan, who served as the chairwoman of Time’s Up and co-founded its legal defense fund, which supports victims of sexual harassment, submitted her letter of resignation early Monday, according to the Times.
In the letter, published in full by the newspaper, Kaplan wrote that “recent events have made it clear … even our apparent allies in the fight to advance women can turn out to be abusers.”
She also said that given her work as a practicing lawyer, she could not openly answer questions about her involvement with Cuomo or his then top aide, Melissa DeRosa, first detailed in a report published last week by the New York Attorney General’s office.
The report from the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James named Kaplan as one of several prominent figures who engaged in an effort to discredit Lindsey Boylan, the first woman who accused Cuomo of inappropriate sexual behavior. According to the report, which was the result of a five-month investigation, Kaplan reviewed a draft of an op-ed aimed at attacking Boylan’s character, and has continued legal ties to DeRosa, who led the charge on the disparaging op-ed. In a statement released after the report was published, Kaplan said she tried to respond to the request from Cuomo’s office in a manner consistent with the philosophy of Time’s Up.
“While it turns out the response was never published, I made it very clear that any response should never shame an accuser,” Kaplan said in a statement to the Washington Post. “Given the revelations in the New York Attorney General report, I support and agree with Time’s Up that Governor Cuomo should resign.”
Other figures identified in the report for their connections to Cuomo have also faced severe backlash. DeRosa, who was one of the governor’s fiercest supporters, announced her resignation Sunday night. Chris Cuomo, the governor’s brother who apparently engaged in strategy sessions about the sexual harassment claims, has drawn criticism to CNN where he is an anchor. Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ political lobbying organization in the country, is now being probed by his organization and faces calls to resign.