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Leader of Time’s Up movement Roberta Kaplan quits after backlash over her work with Andrew Cuomo

Written by on 11 August 2021

Roberta Kaplan has quit her role as the head of the Time’s Up board, after facing criticism over her work advising New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on his sexual assault allegations last year.

The organisation was founded by Hollywood celebrities in the wake of the widespread allegations made against film producer Harvey Weinstein, and has raised tens of millions of dollars to help victims of sexual abuse.

Ms Kaplan, who is a lawyer, advised the New York state governor last year when allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him by a number of women, according to the New York Times.

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‘This is not who I am’ – Cuomo’s sexual harassment denial

In a report last week, Mr Cuomo was found to have groped, kissed, or made suggestive comments to 11 women in violation of the law, prompting prosecutors to launch a criminal investigation and calls for him to resign or for him to be impeached – including President Joe Biden saying he should quit.

Mr Cuomo denies the allegations.

An open letter signed by more than 40 sexual assault survivors criticised Time’s Up, saying it has betrayed “the very people it was supposed to champion”.

They described Ms Kaplan’s behaviour as “questioning”.

Announcing the departure of Ms Kaplan in a statement, Time’s Up said: “We’ve worked to hold power accountable in board rooms, in the halls of government, and in organizations big and small, and we have felt uniquely capable of doing so because many of us have worked in those very institutions.

“Yet, we recognize that this work has sometimes resulted in a lack of trust from the broader survivor community we serve and to which we also belong. We are looking within.

“Robbie Kaplan, board co-chair, has stepped down from the board. We and she agree that is the right and appropriate thing to do.”

In her resignation letter, Ms Kaplan said that “an active litigation practice is no longer compatible with serving on the Board at Times Up”.

She had been the chairwoman on the board of directors at the organisation, as well as being the co-founder of the Time’s Up Legal Defence Fund.

Over the weekend, Melissa DeRosa, a senior aide to Mr Cuomo quit, after being mentioned in the report over efforts to cover up the governor’s alleged actions and retaliate against one of his accusers.

She called the last two years “emotionally and mentally trying”.