ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo oversaw a toxic workplace and sexually harassed several women, including much younger aides and advisers as well as a state trooper, according to a bombshell report released Tuesday by state Attorney General Letitia James’ office.
The report details cases of harassment by the governor of current and former employees that include unwanted groping, kissing, hugging and inappropriate comments that accusers called “deeply humiliating, uncomfortable, offensive, or inappropriate.”
James also accused Cuomo and his senior staff of taking actions to retaliate against at least one former employee for going public with her accusations against him.
The governor and Executive Chamber staff fostered a “toxic” workplace that enabled “harassment to occur and created a hostile work environment,” violating several state and federal laws, James said.
“This is a sad day for New York because independent investigators have concluded that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and, in doing so, broke the law,” James said during a briefing at her Manhattan office. “I am grateful to all the women who came forward to tell their stories in painstaking detail, enabling investigators to get to the truth. No man — no matter how powerful — can be allowed to harass women or violate our human rights laws, period.”
Cuomo has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and in recent weeks, after reportedly being grilled during an 11-hour sit-down, he has taken to openly questioning the integrity of investigators running the probe.
The governor authorized the attorney general’s investigation in late February after three women came forward accusing him of sexual misconduct.
Others went public in the weeks after the probe launched, including an unnamed staffer who accused the 63-year-old Democrat of groping her at the governor’s mansion.
James tasked former federal prosecutor Joon Kim and Anne Clark, a prominent employment lawyer, to lead the investigation on March 8.
Investigators talked to 179 individuals and examined documents, texts, photographs, emails and audio files.
“These interviews and pieces of evidence revealed a deeply disturbing yet clear picture: Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees, federal and state laws,” James said.
Investigators found that the Executive Chamber was “rife with fear and intimidation” that not only “enabled the above-described instances of harassment to occur” but also “created a hostile work environment overall.”
Kim and Clark detailed incidents in which Cuomo groped and grabbed women at will and made creepy comments to a female state trooper that included asking her why she wanted to get married when marriage means “your sex drive goes down and asking her why she did not wear a dress.”
Former Cuomo staffer Lindsey Boylan was the first woman to come forward with allegations that the governor kissed her on 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.”
The attorney general’s report found that after Boylan first tweeted out her allegations in December, the Cuomo administration sought to undermine her account by releasing 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 those records “were leaked to the media in an effort to smear me.”
Others said that Cuomo would regularly touch them in ways that made them uncomfortable and ask deeply personal questions. Another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo asked if she was interested in older men and told her he was open to dating women in their 20s.
“Some suffered through unwanted touching and grabbing of their most intimate body parts. Others suffered through repeated offensive, sexually suggestive or gender-based comments,” Kim said during the briefing. “A number of them endured both. None of them welcomed it. And all of them found it disturbing, humiliating, uncomfortable and inappropriate.”
Cuomo has repeatedly rebuffed calls for his resignation, though he has apologized for making some women feel uncomfortable.
“I never harassed anyone, I never assaulted anyone, I never abused anyone,” Cuomo said in March. “I’m not going to resign.”
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