After a five-month investigation, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a bombshell report on Tuesday corroborating allegations that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, nine of whom were state employees, in violation of state and federal law.
“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.
The 168-page report details how Cuomo regularly engaged in “unwelcome and nonconsensual touching,” confirming the accounts of multiple former and current state employees who came forward in the last year. It describes how Cuomo and his top aides deployed fear and intimidation to create a work environment that normalized sexual harassment.
The report also details alleged acts of misconduct by Cuomo that had not been previously reported. In one incident, the governor was found to have inappropriately touched an unnamed state trooper on a “number of occasions,” while making offensive comments about her wardrobe and sex drive.
In a statement, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the State Senate Majority Leader, reiterated her calls for Cuomo to resign. State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said that the conduct outlined in the report “would indicate someone who is not fit for office.” The Assembly is planning to conference on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the investigation.
Since mid-March, investigators have reportedly amassed hours of testimony from women who say they were sexually harassed by Cuomo while working for the state, interviewed members of his inner circle and subpoenaed droves of emails, texts, and state documents.
Many of those communications are included in an appendix. In one text message exchange, Charlotte Bennet, a 25-year-old former aid to the governor, describes “shaking,” and feeling so “upset and so confused” after Cuomo allegedly asked if she would ever date an older man.
James praised the “heroic women who came forward” adding, “more importantly, I believe them.” She stopped short of making a criminal referral, leaving it to prosecutors and local police to take further action.
Cuomo was questioned by investigators for 11 hours on July 17th, an at-times tense exchange in which the governor raised questions about the impartiality of the investigators, the New York Times reported.
At least four current and former gubernatorial staffers have said Cuomo made inappropriate comments, touched them or kissed them on the cheek, or made explicit sexual advances on them, including Bennett, Alyssa McGrath, Lindsey Boylan, and Ana Liss. A fifth woman who has not been publicly named said Cuomo summoned her to the executive mansion late last year and groped her under her shirt.
Other women who have alleged inappropriate conduct by Cuomo include Karen Hinton, who worked with him when he was federal housing secretary during the Clinton administration in the ‘90s and said he gave her an intimate hug in which she claimed he was aroused. Anna Ruch, who met the governor at a 2019 wedding for a former staffer, told the NYTimes about another uncomfortable encounter with him touching her lower back and placing his hands on her face to kiss her.
The governor has apologized for making anyone feel uncomfortable, while outright denying some of the allegations, including that he ever touched anyone inappropriately.
Cuomo initially authorized the Attorney General investigation under immense public pressure to do so in March. At first, he tried to appoint a political ally as the investigator, but eventually relented and allowed James’ office to conduct an independent investigation with full subpoena power. James, in turn, tapped two outside attorneys: Ann Clark, a labor attorney, and former federal prosecutor Joon Kim, who was involved in building the cases against several close Cuomo allies, including Cuomo’s top aide Joe Percoco, former Republican State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and the former Democratic speaker of the State Assembly Sheldon Silver.
In the weeks that followed, Cuomo and his allies had punted on all questions about the sexual harassment allegations, stressing the need for “due process,” and urging New Yorkers to await the results of the investigation.
But more recently, Cuomo’s tone has shifted. He’s raised questions publicly about the integrity of the Attorney General’s probe, suggesting it’s politically motivated, hinting that Attorney General Tish James might be angling to primary him next spring. Cuomo is up for re-election for a fourth-term next year. James has declined to comment on a potential primary challenge.
“Look at who the independent investigators are,” Cuomo said at a July 26th press conference at Yankee Stadium, encouraging people to google the names of the investigators. “Is this all happening in a political system? Yes, that is undeniable.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.