According to a stunning report issued Tuesday by state Attorney General Letitia James, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually assaulted at least 11 women and then retaliated against a former staffer who publicly complained about his behavior.
Cuomo was deemed to have harassed present and former state workers, as well as a number of women outside of state government, according to the office’s extensive report on the inquiry, James said.
The troubled governor rejected the allegations and pledged not to be “not be distracted” from his job, but Democratic leaders, including close Cuomo supporter President Joe Biden, urged that he resign within hours of the report’s release.
“I think he should resign,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
“I’m sure there are some embraces that were totally innocent. But apparently the attorney general decided there were things that weren’t,” Biden said.
According to the 165-page assessment, which includes interviews with 179 witnesses and an examination of tens of thousands of records, Cuomo’s office was plagued with fear and intimidation and was a toxic work environment for many workers.
Cuomo, 63, said in a video message released following James’ briefing that he did not act improperly.
“The facts are much different than what has been portrayed,” Cuomo remarked.
“I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” Cuomo said in an address on Tuesday.
He said the study was contaminated by “bias” and positioned himself as a woman’s defender.
“For those who are using this moment to score political points, or seek publicity or personal gain, I say they actually discredit the legitimate sexual harassment victims that the law was designed to protect,” Cuomo added.
Cuomo addressed two of his accusers, including Charlotte Bennett, whom he said he was attempting to assist after a previous instance of sexual harassment.
The months-long investigation determined that Cuomo “sexually harassed multiple women, in violation of federal and state law,” James stated at a press conference. Her office, however, stated that there were no particular penalties associated with the report.
According to the investigation, he grabbed an executive assistant by the buttocks and touched her beneath her blouse in one example, and he fondled a state trooper in another.
Cuomo participated in “unwelcome and nonconsensual touching,” according to James, and made “suggestive” sexual statements, according to her inquiry.
Cuomo, a third-term Democratic governor who has been in office since 2011, called the results incorrect and unjust. He claimed his accusers misread his words, gestures, and manner, maintaining that his actions were always intended to make the ladies feel at ease.
The report also determined that the governor’s denials “lacked credibility” and were “inconsistent with the weight of the evidence” obtained throughout the investigation.
In a statement, the district attorney’s office in Albany County, New York, said it had an ongoing criminal investigation into Cuomo’s behavior and will formally seek investigative evidence from the AG’s office.
“We also conclude that the Executive Chamber’s culture — one filled with fear and intimidation, while at the same time normalizing the Governor’s frequent flirtations and gender-based comments — contributed to the conditions that allowed the sexual harassment to occur and persist,” investigators Joon Kim and Anne Clark wrote in the report. “That culture also influenced the improper and inadequate ways in which the Executive Chamber has responded to allegations of harassment.”
At a press conference on Tuesday, employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark, one of the investigators assigned to lead the inquiry, presented a litany of report findings, including specific examples of the governor making suggestive comments and engaging in unwanted touching that eleven women – some named, others anonymous – found “deeply humiliating and offensive.”
The inquiry marked the rapid downfall of a governor who rose to national prominence in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic by projecting himself as an authoritative figure in daily press conferences.
The statement came nearly two weeks after Cuomo was interviewed by investigators hired by James’ office to conduct the investigation. Cuomo was questioned for 11 hours, according to reports.