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Time’s Up leader quits in Cuomo sex harassment fallout

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Tina Tchen (L), here with actress Jurnee Smollett, headed Time's Up, an organization fighting sexual misconduct in the workplace, since 2019./AFP
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Aug 27, 2021 - 08:49 AM

LOS ANGELES — The head of the Time’s Up movement, created by Hollywood figures to defend women against sexual harassment in the workplace, resigned Thursday after admitting connections to ex-New York governor Andrew Cuomo during his sexual harassment scandal.

Tina Tchen, who served as first lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, had been in charge of the group since 2019.

US media reported this week that Time’s Up had extensive contact with advisers to Cuomo as he sought to frame a response to claims he had acted inappropriately toward female staff.

“Now is the time for Time’s Up to evolve and move forward as there is so much more work to do for women,” Tchen said in a statement Thursday. “It is clear that I am not the leader who can accomplish that in this moment.”

She added, “I am especially aware that my position at the helm of Time’s Up has become a painful and divisive focal point, where those very women and other activists who should be working together to fight for change are instead battling each other in harmful ways.”

Cuomo, who was once spoken of as a potential presidential contender, stepped down this week after an explosive report by state Attorney General Letitia James said he sexually harassed 11 women, including by engaging in unwanted touching.

Cuomo strenuously denied the allegations and initially rejected calls to quit, including from President Joe Biden.

US media outlets said this week Tchen had blocked the release of a Time’s Up statement in support of Lindsey Boylan, the first woman to publicly accuse Cuomo.

Former Time’s Up president Roberta Kaplan also recently resigned after reports that her law firm was defending a Cuomo associate and that Kaplan herself had intervened in the affair.

Former members of Time’s Up and victims of sexual abuse have accused the organization of failing to protect women.

The movement was born from a manifesto signed by 300 entertainment industry figures on January 1, 2018, as details emerged of the serial abuses committed by feted producer Harvey Weinstein. Time’s Up called for “a change in the perception and treatment of women in our society.”

The organization quickly raised millions of dollars for a legal support fund for victims of harassment.

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