The chairwoman of Time’s Up bucked the advocacy group’s mission statement to address sexual discrimination and harassment in the workplace when she helped New York governor Andrew Cuomo draft a letter to discredit one of his accusers.
Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into the allegations that Cuomo harassed current and former state employees concluded that Cuomo and a group of advisors drafted a December 2020 letter smearing accuser Lindsay Boylan.
James said that top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa, who also resigned her post on Sunday, testified that she thought the letter could backfire, and the governor told her to seek advice from her attorney, Roberta Kaplan, co-founder of the Time’s Up legal defense fund.
“According to Ms. DeRosa, Ms. Kaplan read the letter to the head of the advocacy group Times Up [Tchen], and both of them allegedly suggested that, without the statements about Ms. Boylan’s interactions with male colleagues, the letter was fine,” James said in the report.
“Ms. DeRosa reported back to the governor that Ms. Kaplan and the head of Times Up thought the letter was okay with some changes,” the report continued. The letter was ultimately never released because nobody team Cuomo approached would sign it.
“Today is a very sad day,” Kaplan commented. “I will so miss the time spent with this board and our sisterhood. Going together, I hope they will be able to stick together and continue this important work.”
“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,” she concluded.
Her resignation comes on the heels of a group of sexual assault survivors’ allegations that “TIME’S UP is failing all survivors,” in an open letter to the foundation’s governing board.
“We were dismayed yet unsurprised to see TIME’S UP leaders Roberta Kaplan and Tina Tchen named in the 165 page Attorney General’s report investigating the allegations of sexual harassment by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo,” they wrote.
“There is a consistent pattern of behavior where the decision-makers at TIME’S UP continue to align themselves with abusers at the expense of survivors. TIME’S UP should be ashamed,” the letter continued. “TIME’S UP has prioritized its proximity to power over mission.”
Time’s Up issued a press release on Monday that said they held themselves “accountable” and Kaplan’s resignation was the “right and appropriate thing” to do.