New York governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, among them current and former state employees, in violation of federal and state law, state attorney general Letitia James announced at a press conference on Tuesday.
The announcement represents the conclusions of a months-long probe by the attorney general’s office into sexual harassment allegations made against the governor. Several women have alleged that the governor inappropriately touched them, although Cuomo has denied wrongdoing.
“Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and in doing so violated federal and state law,” James told reporters. Cuomo and the Executive Chamber cultivated a “toxic” workplace that allowed “harassment to occur and created a hostile work environment.”
James added that the probe “is civil in nature and does not have criminal consequences.” However, Anne Clark, one of the lead investigators for the probe, said prosecutors may look at the evidence contained in the report and determine whether to press charges.
“All the information is fully documented in the report, and any prosecutors or police departments can look at the evidence and determine if they want to take further action,” Clark said.
James’s report, which runs to 165 pages, details a litany of allegations by eleven women against the governor.
For example, “on November 16, 2020, the Governor hugged Executive Assistant #1 and then reached under her blouse and grabbed her breast,” the report reads, without naming the executive assistant. “On multiple occasions in 2019 and 2020, the Governor engaged in close and intimate hugs with Executive Assistant #1 during which he, on occasion, grabbed her butt.”
Executive Assistant #1 appears to be the state employee who detailed her allegations in an interview with the Albany Times Union in April.
In another instance, Cuomo reportedly harassed a state trooper, including by “running his hand across her stomach, from her belly button to her right hip, while she held a door open for him at an event,” and “kissing her (and only her) on the cheek in front of another Trooper and asking to kiss her on another occasion, which she deflected.”
President Biden said in a March interview that Cuomo should resign if an investigation substantiated allegations of sexual harassment.
“If the investigation confirms the claims of the women, should [Cuomo] resign?” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked the president at the time.
“Yes,” Biden answered. “I think he’ll probably end up being prosecuted, too.”
Cuomo is currently facing an impeachment inquiry in the New York State Assembly, over the sexual harassment allegations and the governor’s handling of coronavirus outbreaks in state nursing homes. A majority of New York state legislatures have already called for Cuomo’s resignation, however it not immediately clear how James’s findings would affect that probe.
HEASTIE: "The conduct by the Governor outlined in this report would indicate someone who is not fit for office."
But also: "We will have more to say in the very near future. pic.twitter.com/dQChAZIAGB
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) August 3, 2021
“The conduct by the Governor outlined in this report would indicate someone who is not fit for office,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat who represents the Bronx, said in a statement. “We will now undertake an in-depth examination of this report and its corresponding exhibits….We will have more to say in the very near future.”