FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD Trump was accused by dozens of women of sexual harassment or, in one case, rape – and nonetheless suffered no legal or political consequences for it. Another former president, Bill Clinton, was impeached for a consensual extramarital sexual relationship and lost his law license for five years for lying about it but also kept his job. Former Sen. Al Franken quickly resigned amid accusations that he inappropriately touched women during photo ops, while Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, accused two years ago of raping two women years before, has survived the immediate political fallout and is now running for governor.

There appears to be no consistent standard when it comes to vetting sexual harassment claims against politicians and punishing them, clouding the futures of both the #MeToo movement and the politicians facing potentially damaging accusations. And the unpredictability of the process has put the most recent subject of the #MeToo era, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a potentially defining role as activists and lawmakers ponder how to deal with such cases in a way that is fair to both victims and the accused.

If the governor were a manager in a private company, he might get a stern talking-to by HR or even be quietly pushed out. But Cuomo is an elected official, and his case is very, very public.

That raises a slew of difficult questions for Cuomo, the Democrats and the #MeToo movement: How does one balance the right to due process for the accused with the mantra to believe women who make such allegations? Should someone have to resign an elected position just for being a nightmare boss?

And if anyone gets to "fire" Cuomo, should it not be the people who hired him – the voters? In that case, the numbers are on Cuomo's side: Despite the views of Democratic leaders, just 35% of New Yorkers believe Cuomo should resign while 50% explicitly say he should not do so, according to a poll by Siena College. A strong majority – 57% – say they are satisfied with the way Cuomo has handled the allegations compared to 32% who say they are not satisfied. Nor is there a significant gender divide on how Cuomo's alleged behavior and response is being viewed by voters.

What about due process and Cuomo's right to make his own case? It's complicated, when it comes to sexual harassment, says Lilia Cortina, a psychology and women's and gender studies professor at the University of Michigan.

"There's a collection of myths, of falsehoods that are pervasive in society around sexual harassment and sexual assault – that women frequently fabricate or exaggerate claims about the sexual side of men," Cortina says. And the standards of a criminal court – where a defendant could lose his or her life or liberty – are higher, she adds.

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