Cuomo sexually harassed women, says attorney general

Cuomo sexually harassed women, says attorney general

The state attorney general found that he sexually harassed multiple current state government employees, state Attorney General Letitia James announced on Tuesday.

The almost five-month investigation, led by two outside lawyers who spoke to 179 people, found that the Cuomo administration was a 'hostile work environment' and that it was rife with fear and intimidation. People interviewed included complainants, past and current members of the executive chamber, state troopers, additional state employees and others who interacted regularly with the Governor.

'These interviews and pieces of evidence revealed a deeply disturbing yet clear picture Gov. James sexually harassed federal and state employees, federal laws, in a press conference on Tuesday.

On at least one occasion, the investigation found, Cuomo and his senior staff worked to retaliate against a former employee who accused him of wrongdoing. Cuomo was also found to have harassed women outside of government, the investigation found.

James said the investigation would not have happened without the ‘heroic” women who came forward.

Cuomo faced multiple allegations last winter that he inappropriately met and sexually harassed women who worked with him or met at public events. One aide in his office said that he groped her breast. Another, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo kissed her to the lips after a meeting in his office and would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs.

After Boylan first made her allegations public in December, Cuomo administration undercut her story by publishing personnel memos to media outlets revealing that Boylan resigned after she was confronted about complaints she belittled and yelled at her staff. Boylan has said that these records were leaked in an effort to smear me to the media.

Other aides have said that the Democratic governor asked them unwelcome personal questions about sex and dating. One former aide, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo asked if she was interested in having sex with an older man.

Previously, there was a chorus of calls for Cuomo's resignation by some top democratic politicians in New York including two U.S. Senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand But Cuomo refused to quit and raised money for a fourth term.

His position on the allegations has also hardened to one of defiance. Cuomo has always denied touching anyone sexually, but he initially said he was sorry if his behavior with women was misinterpreted as inappropriate flirtation. In recent months, he has taken a more aggressive tack, accusing himself of nothing wrong and questioning the motives of accusers and critics.

He has also questioned the impartiality of lawyers hired by attorney general to investigate allegations. One of the attorneys, Joon Kim, was involved in federal investigations of corruption by people in Cuomo's administration when he was a federal prosecutor in Manhattan. Kim hasn't expressly stated why he believes that would make Cuomo biased.

The Attorney General's Report is expected to play an important role in an ongoing inquiry in the state assembly on whether there are grounds for Cuomo to be impeached.

The Assembly hired its own legal team to investigate Cuomo's conduct, plus other allegations of wrongdoing. The legislature is looking into the help Cuomo got from senior aides to write a book about the pandemic, special access that Cuomo relatives got to COVID-19 testing last year and the administration's decision to withhold some data on nursing home deaths from the public for several months.

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Some members of the judiciary committee said they expect James' report to be 'critical' for the impeachment investigation.

New York state regulations say sexual harassment includes offensive conduct of a sexual nature — from unwelcome flirtations to sexual jokes that create an unwanted work environment, regardless of a perpetrator's intent.

The governor, in contrast, has repeatedly argued that he did not intend to harass anyone. His office has said that he took the state's mandated sexual harassment training, but has not provided any documentation to show he did.

Cuomo championed a landmark California state law for sexual harassment victims that made it easier to prove their case in court. Serious and pervasive victims no longer have to meet the high bar of proving sexual harassment is'severe and prevalent.