Who is Jessica Bakeman? NY reporter claims Andrew Cuomo grabbed 'her by waist' and forced her to pose for a pic
Bakeman is the seventh person to accuse NY governor of harassment. ‘It wasn’t about sex. It was about power,’ she said
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's sexual harassment scandal continues to deepen as a seventh accuser has come forward. Jessica Bakeman, a journalist who now works for WLRN Public Media, has detailed multiple times when Cuomo harassed her while she was covering the governor. Bakeman worked in New York between 2012 and 2015, before moving to Florida.
Bakeman's allegations add further fuel to the already raging fire that is Cuomo's scandal. The governor is facing investigations from the state Attorney General's office, as well as from the FBI into his underreporting of care home deaths. Cuomo is also facing calls from prominent Democrats to step down. However, he has refused to do so, calling himself a victim of "cancel culture" in a briefing with reporters.
Bakeman unveiled the multiple times Cuomo harassed her in a first-person for New York Magazine. In the damning article, Bakeman said Cuomo "never let me forget I was a woman," and called his interactions with her "the textbook definition of sexual harassment.”
Who is Jessica Bakeman?
Bakeman is a seasoned journalist who has worked with Star Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and Politico. She graduated summa cum laude with a double major from the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh in 2011. After graduation, she became the Statehouse Correspondent for Gannett in Albany, New York. She also had a stint as an Education Reporter for Politico New York. It was during this time that she covered the Cuomo administration and came into contact with the governor on multiple occasions.
In 2015, Bakeman moved to Florida to serve Politico Florida as an education reporter. She is presently a producer at WLRN Public Media in Miami. Bakeman was awarded the 2020 Journalist of the Year award from the Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
'It was about power'
In her article, Bakeman claims the governor never wanted to have sex with her. "It wasn’t about sex. It was about power. He wanted me to know that I was powerless, that I was small and weak, that I did not deserve what relative power I had: a platform to hold him accountable for his words and actions," she said. She detailed her experience at a party in 2014, hosted for the Albany press corps at the executive mansion.
At the party, Bakeman claims Cuomo put "his hand on my waist, and held me firmly in place while indicating to a photographer he wanted us to pose for a picture."
"My job was to analyze and scrutinize him. I didn’t want a photo of him with his hands on my body and a smile on my face. But I made the reflexive assessment that most women and marginalized people know instinctively, the calculation about risk and power and self-preservation. I knew it would be far easier to smile for the brief moment it takes to snap a picture than to challenge one of the most powerful men in the country," she continued. "But my calculation was a bit off. I was wrong to believe this experience would last for just a moment. Keeping his grip on me as I practically squirmed to get away from him, the governor turned my body to face a different direction for yet another picture. He never let go of my hand."
He then told her "I’m sorry. Am I making you uncomfortable? I thought we were going steady.” That was far from the only case.
Bakeman claimed that at another party in 2012, Cuomo "took my hand, pulled me into his body and put his arm around my shoulder. He left it there, and kept me pinned next to him, for several minutes." She mentioned a couple of other instances where Cuomo allegedly humiliated her in public, claiming "in the course of my reporting, Cuomo never let me forget I was a woman."
Bakeman's account is one of the most detailed to highlight what many see as a pattern in Cuomo's behavior. Despite calls from prominent Democrats like Chuck Schumer, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Jerry Nadler and Jamaal Bowman have all called for him to step down. However, in a Covid-19 briefing, Cuomo said, "I'm not going to resign. I was not elected by the politicians, I was elected by the people."