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Melissa DeRosa, top Cuomo aide, resigns as he faces possible impeachment

Melissa DeRosa, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's chief of

Melissa DeRosa, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's chief of staff, speaks during a COVID-19 briefing on July 6, 2020. Credit: Getty Images / David Dee Delgado

ALBANY — Melissa DeRosa, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s top aide, resigned late Sunday as the Democratic governor faces potential impeachment amid allegations he sexually harassed 11 women.

The loss of one of his fiercest allies and defenders underscores the deepening trouble for the governor, who has resisted calls from his own party leader and President Joe Biden to resign following a report that alleged he broke multiple state and federal laws.

DeRosa, whose title was secretary to the governor, released a statement saying the last two years have been "emotionally and mentally trying."

"It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve the people of New York for the past 10 years," she wrote. "New Yorkers’ resilience, strength, and optimism through the most difficult times has inspired me everyday. Personally, the past 2 years have been emotionally and mentally trying. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such talented and committed colleagues on behalf of our state."

DeRosa, 38, was mentioned 187 times in a report issued Tuesday by State Attorney General Letitia James that found Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, including current and former staff members and a state trooper assigned to his personal security detail.

The report singled her out as one of the leaders of an alleged attempt to retaliate against one of the accusers.

The resignation came around 12 hours before a State Assembly impeachment committee is set to convene at the State Capitol on Monday morning.

It also came one day after the Albany County Sheriff’s Department outlined a criminal complaint filed against Cuomo, centering on claims he groped a female staffer at the Executive Mansion.

State Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs said losing DeRosa, for Cuomo, "is as big as it gets."

"To me, this would be an indication that his options have been exhausted," Jacobs said. "And my guess is she has reached the same conclusion."

He added that DeRosa "served the governor exceptionally well" and this "is a sad chapter for everybody."

Debra Katz, the lawyer for Charlotte Bennett, another of Cuomo’s accusers, wrote on Twitter of DeRosa’s resignation: "An apology would have been a better way to depart."

DeRosa had worked for Cuomo for 10 years in a variety of roles before working up to secretary — becoming the first woman to hold the post. She was a frequent presence alongside Cuomo at his daily, televised COVID-19 briefings for many months when the pandemic struck.

Notably, there was no direct mention of Cuomo in DeRosa’s resignation statement.

James’ report noted that DeRosa, even while defending Cuomo publicly, told investigators she once, while traveling with the governor, yelled at him about the controversy and exited the vehicle.

With Michael Gormley

State & Region