New York Attorney General Letitia James has announced that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple current and former staff members in violation of state and federal laws.
Cuomo responded swiftly to the complaints in a pre-recorded video message, denying the results of the report, and chalking up the accusations of inappropriate comments to generational differences.
“I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. I am 63 years old and have lived my entire life in public view,” said Cuomo. “I kiss people on the cheek. I kiss people on the forehead. I kiss people on the hand. I do, on occasion, slip and say ‘sweetheart’ and ‘hunny’. I try to put people at ease. I try to make people smile.”
The Attorney General’s reports is the result of a five-month investigation. James, along with the lead investigators, Joon Kim and Anne Clark interviewed 179 witnesses including current and former members of the executive chamber, state troopers, other state employees. They reviewed 74,000 pieces of evidence including texts, audio files, images and emails.
This is all contained in a report, which can be read here.
“This evidence reveals a deeply disturbing, yet clear picture,” said James in a press conference Tuesday morning.
Pattern of sexually harassing behavior
“Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, many of whom were young women, by engaging in groping and unwanted comments. Cuomo fostered a toxic workplace where staffers did not feel comfortable coming forth with complaints, given the environment of fear and power dynamics,” said James.
“This corrodes the very fabric and character of our state government.”
These were not isolated incidents, said Kim. The governor’s pattern of sexually harassing behavior was not limited to his own staff, but also a state trooper on his protective detail.
There are 11 complainants, nine of which are or had been part of his staff. Some reported unwanted touching of their most intimate body parts. None of them welcomed it. All of them found it humiliating and inappropriate and, Kim said, “now we find that it was unlawful.”
The investigation found that Cuomo pulled a former staffer, who requested anonymity, in for a hug in his office and reached under her blouse and groped her. Cuomo again denied it and said the staffer is suing him and that he welcomes a full review from a jury.
The investigation also found that Cuomo had asked one of his executive assistants if she would ever cheat on her husband and said, “if you were single, the things I would do to you.” She told Kim and Clark that she vowed that she would take these events to the grave, but she broke down when she heard the governor publicly announce that he had never acted inappropriately.
One complainant said, in an effort to deflect his sexual comments, she asked the governor what he was looking for in a girlfriend, and he said, “someone who can handle pain.”
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