New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed nearly a dozen women, including employees in his office, and violated federal and state laws, according to the findings of an investigation by the Attorney General’s office. ‘State.
the the investigation found that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, nine of whom are current and former state employees – and one of them is a New York State soldier. “None of them welcomed it and all found it uncomfortable,” New York Attorney General Letitia James told reporters on Tuesday.
In one case, he grabbed an executive assistant by the buttocks and cuddled her under her shirt, and he stroked the state soldier, according to the report.
He also found that the governor and his team retaliated against a former employee for coming forward and fostered a “toxic” work environment.
In a statement, the Albany County, New York City attorney’s office said it has an ongoing criminal investigation into Cuomo’s conduct and will formally request investigative documents from the office of the AG.
Cuomo, in a video statement, again denied any wrongdoing and said he was issuing his own report to “share the truth now.” “The facts are very different from what has been described,” he said. “I have never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.”
He suggested the report was tainted with “one-sidedness” and presented himself as a protector of women. “For those who use this moment to score political points, or seek publicity or personal gain, I say they are in fact discrediting the legitimate victims of sexual harassment that the law was designed to protect,” said Cuomo.
He went on to say he would hire more trainers to prevent harassment in the office: “I want the New York State government to be a role model in the office, and I brought in an expert to help. to design new sexual harassment policies and procedures, and to train the whole team, including myself.
Cuomo, a Democrat in his third term, has rejected calls for resignation and has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, initially predicting that the investigation by James’ office would exonerate him. He did the opposite, noting that he had made numerous inappropriate comments to women and subjected some of them to unwanted touching and kissing.
“It’s a sad day for New York as independent investigators have concluded that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed several women and in doing so broke the law,” said James, whose office interviewed 179 people and examined more of 74,000 documents over the months. long probe.
Several Democrats in Washington, Albany and New York quickly called on the governor to step down.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat who previously called on Cuomo to step down, said in a statement: “Now that the investigation is complete and the allegations have been substantiated, he should be clear to everyone that he cannot longer as governor. “
State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat who authorized the Judiciary Committee to open an impeachment inquiry against Cuomo in March, said the conduct described in the report “would point to someone not is not suitable for a post “.
“We will now undertake a thorough examination of the report and its corresponding exhibits” and “will have more to say in the very near future”.
James said she would provide the Assembly “with all relevant evidence” and “cooperate with their investigation if necessary.”
James’ investigators have detailed in graphical terms the instances of harassment that they say were perpetuated by Cuomo, including making sexual comments and catching women.
Cuomo is charged with “inappropriate behavior pattern” with a staff member described as “executive assistant # 1” which included kissing her on the lips at least once, grabbing her buttocks during cuddling, asking multiple times if she had cheated or cheated on her husband and once ran her hand under her blouse and grabbed his chest, according to the report.
The report corroborates the allegations of many women who had already come forward, and also includes testimonies from previously unknown victims, including a state soldier who Cuomo had asked to be assigned to his security service after the to have seen at an event.
Cuomo harassed the soldier on several occasions, according to the report.
In one instance, Cuomo ran “his hand over her stomach, from her navel to her right hip,” as she held a door open, the report said. As she stood in front of him in an elevator, he ran “his finger down her back, from the top of her neck to the middle of her back, saying” hi, you “,” the report reads. .
In another case, he is accused of “having kissed her (and only her) on the cheek in front of another soldier and asking him to kiss him on another occasion, which she turned away”. Other horsemen corroborated the accounts.
The report also included a disturbing encounter Cuomo had with a woman named Virginia Limmiatis during a conservation event in upstate New York in 2017.
Limmiatis waited to meet the governor and other event attendees and wore a shirt with the name of the energy company she worked for written on the chest.
When Cuomo spoke to him, “he ran two fingers across his chest, pressing down on each of the letters as he did, and reading the name of the energy company as it went.” The governor then leaned over, his face close to Mrs. his collarbone), ”the report says.
Cuomo and his office also retaliated against the first woman who spoke publicly about how she was treated by Governor Lindsey Boylan, assistant secretary for economic development and special advisor to Cuomo from 2015 to 2018.
Boylan wrote in an essay on the Medium website that she experienced “widespread harassment” while working for him, including asking him to “play strip poker” and receiving an unwanted kiss on the mouth.
After first tweeting allegations of sexual harassment by the governor in December, Cuomo and members of his office “actively engaged in an effort to discredit her, including releasing confidential internal documents that portrayed her to the press. in a negative light and were circulating among a group of current and former Executive Chamber employees (although not ultimately publishing) a proposed editorial or letter denigrating Ms Boylan that the Governor was personally involved in drafting The report revealed.
“Light on injustice”
James’ investigators questioned Cuomo as part of their investigation.
“Where the governor made specific denials of conduct that the complainants clearly remembered,” the report said, “we found that his denials lacked credibility and were inconsistent with the weight of the evidence obtained during our investigation.” .
James summed up the investigation by saying that it “exposed conduct which corrodes the fabric and very character of our state government and highlights the injustice that can be present at the highest level of government.”
The report noted that Cuomo and his office violated their own policies by not reporting and immediately investigating the harassment allegations themselves.
The attorney general did not announce any charges, saying the women could file civil suits or that local police departments and prosecutors could reconsider their findings.
“We released a report and throughout the process we put our heads down, we did our job. And at this point… we’re going to allow the chips to follow where they can,” said James.
James’ office began a formal investigation into Cuomo in March, just before 33-year-old Anna Ruch said The New York Times that she felt “uncomfortable and embarrassed” when Cuomo placed his hands on her face and asked him to kiss her at a wedding in 2019.
Responding to a question about what the public should take away from the report, James replied, “That these 11 women were in a hostile and toxic work environment, and we should believe women.