An independent investigation found that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) sexually harassed multiple women, including many of those who worked in his office, in violation of New York state and federal law, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday.
“The independent investigation has concluded that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, and in doing so violated federal and state law,” James said at a press conference announcing the release
“Specifically, the investigation found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York state employees by engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women,” she added.
The independent inquiry launched by James five months ago came into light after a slew of former and current staffers came forward alleging sexual misconduct by Cuomo, including groping, unwanted kissing, and inappropriate comments in the workplace. James deputized two attorneys, after getting the clearance from the Governor’s office to begin the probe — former acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon Kim and Anne Clark to conduct the investigation.
The 168-page bombshell report revealed graphic details of a slew of instances in which Cuomo engaged in inappropriate touching and made remarks that made those around him feel uncomfortable.
James said both Clark and Kim spoke with 179 witnesses as part of the probe, including 11 different complainants, nine of whom were current and former employees of the Governor’s office from 2013 to 2020. Other anonymous allegations came from a New York state trooper, two employees of state-affiliated entities. Lindsey Boylan, Charlotte Bennett, Ana Liss, Alyssa McGrath, and a woman who only went by Kaitlin are other current and former state employees who brought allegations against the governor. Non-employees Ana Ruch, a former member of the Obama administration and the 2020 Biden campaign, and Virginia Limmiatis both accused the governor of inappropriate sexual behavior without their consent.
The two attorneys also reviewed 74,000 pieces of evidence including documents, emails, texts, audio files, and pictures.
“These interviews and pieces of evidence reveal a deeply disturbing, yet clear picture: Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees in violation of both federal and state laws. The independent investigation found that Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, many of whom were young women, by engaging in unwanted groping, kisses, hugging, and by making inappropriate comments,” James said.
James added, “Further, the governor and his senior team took actions to retaliate against at least one former employee for coming forward with her story, her truth.”
The two attorneys also found that Cuomo’s office mishandled claims against the governor in violation of its own harassment policy.
“That response, we find, was a violation of the executive chamber’s harassment policy, which clearly requires that all possible harassment be reported to Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) and investigation,” Clark said.
During the conference, James praised the 11 women who came forward with their claims.
“This investigation has revealed conduct that corrodes the very fabric and character of our state government and shines light on the injustice that can be present at the highest levels of government. But none of this, none of this would have been illuminated if not for the heroic women who came forward. And I am inspired by all the brave women who came forward, but more importantly, I believe them, and I thank them for their bravery,” James said.
Bennett, who was the second woman to come forward in late February alleged that Cuomo made multiple comments to her about her sex life and told her he was “lonely” and “wanted to be touched,” reacted to the report with a simple message for the governor.
“Resign, @NYGovCuomo,” Bennett tweeted.
Liss, who alleged that Cuomo frequently called her “sweetheart” or “darling” and had kissed her on the cheek while she worked as an aide in the executive chamber, responded to the AG investigation’s report and thanked all those who supported her.
“Thank you, thank you to everyone who expressed support out loud and in whispers. For hugs and hand squeezes and texts,” Liss tweeted following the AG press conference.
Cuomo has previously denied any wrongdoing, claiming his actions should not be considered sexual harassment. After the cascade of harassment accusations came to light in March, Cuomo faced a barraged of mounting calls from New York state and Congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, as well as from his accusers for the New York Democrat to resign.
Remaining defiant, Cuomo refused to resigned and urged his critics to wait for the results of the probe. Cuomo will now face renewed pressure to resign amid the AG report and will have to determine whether he could continue his 2022 re-election campaign for a fourth term.
James’s office did not announce any criminal charges, noting that the women would be able to file civil suits against Cuomo and that their claims could be reviewed by local police departments.
The sex harassment scandal is also part of a wide-ranging impeachment investigation by the state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee and Cuomo is under investigation by the FBI and the Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office for his handling of nursing homes amid the COVID pandemic, including the cover-up of total resident deaths during the time New York was the epicenter.