New York Governor Andrew Cuomo “sexually harassed multiple women and violated state and federal law,” the state’s attorney general declared at a Tuesday press conference accompanying the release of a report detailing the results of an independent investigation into allegations that Cuomo engaged in inappropriate behavior toward female employees.
“The independent investigation found that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, many of whom were young women, by engaging in unwanted groping, kisses, hugging, and by making inappropriate comments,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.
After nearly five months of investigation involving interviews with 179 people including Cuomo, investigators “said they found 11 accusers to be credible, noting the allegations were corroborated to varying degrees, including by other witnesses and contemporaneous text messages,” reported the Associated Press.
Among the accusers were two executive assistants who charged that Cuomo made suggestive comments toward them, including calling them “mingle mamas.” One said that the governor repeatedly kissed her and groped her behind and once reached under her blouse and touched her breast.
Former Cuomo aide Charlotte Bennett, known to the governor as a survivor of sexual assault, said she was also subjected to inappropriate comments ranging from the then-62-year-old Cuomo’s willingness to date young women to the then-25-year-old Bennett’s experience with older men to a suggestion that Bennett get a tattoo on her posterior.
At least two of Cuomo’s accusers appear to have been hired on very favorable terms specifically so that the “Love Gov” could keep an eye — and perhaps a hand — on them.
After meeting a female state trooper at an event, Cuomo got her transferred to his personal security detail despite her lack of qualifications for the job, whereupon he proceeded to inappropriately touch, kiss, and make sexually suggestive comments to her.
Another woman got a $120,000-a-year job on Cuomo’s staff nine days after meeting the governor, at which time “he had pictures taken with her in a dance pose,” says the report.
During her time in Cuomo’s employ, she was subjected to comments about her appearance, especially if it wasn’t feminine enough to suit him, and “on one occasion, [Cuomo] asked her to look up car parts on eBay on his computer, which she had to bend over to do, while wearing a skirt and heels, as the Governor sat directly behind her in his office.”
Wearing a shirt with the name of her energy-company employer printed across the chest, Virginia Limmiatis met Cuomo at a conservation event in 2017.
There, Cuomo ran his fingers across the letters in the company name. Then he leaned in and said:
“I’m going to say I see a spider on your shoulder,” before brushing his hand between her shoulder and breasts.
Former state and gubernatorial employee Lindsey Boylan claimed the governor made suggestive comments to her, touched various parts of her body, and kissed her.
When she came forward with her allegations in December, Cuomo’s office “actively engaged in an effort to discredit her, including by disseminating to the press confidential internal documents that painted her in a negative light and circulating among a group of current and former Executive Chamber employees … a proposed op-ed or letter disparaging Ms. Boylan that the Governor personally participated in drafting,” reads the report.
Given a chance to defend himself, Cuomo failed to win over the investigators.
“In his testimony, the Governor suggested that the complainants were — and must be — motivated by politics, animosity, or some other reason,” they wrote, adding that he leveled the same accusations at them.
“The Governor’s blanket denials and lack of recollection as to specific incidents stood in stark contrast to the strength, specificity, and corroboration of the complainants’ recollections, as well as the reports of many other individuals who offered observations and experiences of the Governor’s conduct,” they penned.
They also found that the “culture” in Cuomo’s office, “rife with fear and intimidation,” enabled Cuomo’s harassment and “created a hostile work environment overall.”
Although the investigation concluded that Cuomo had broken multiple state and federal laws, James said she was not planning to prosecute him. However, local authorities could still use the findings to launch their own prosecutions, and the report will surely play a large role in the state Assembly’s inquiry into whether Cuomo should be impeached, an effort with which James said she would cooperate.
But Cuomo isn’t going down without a fight. Despite calls from lawmakers of both parties for the governor to resign in light of James’ report, he refused.
Instead, at a Tuesday press conference, he denied the allegations in the report and, according to the Daily Caller, played “a slideshow showing him kissing men and women of all ages” supposedly to prove that the accusations — at least when it comes to hugging and kissing — are much ado about nothing.