Investigators say New York Governor Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women

An investigation into accusations of sexual harassment by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo found that he groped, kissed or made suggestive comments to 11 women and created a "toxic" workplace in violation of the law, the state's attorney general said on Tuesday, with the White House calling the allegations abhorrent.


Reuters | Updated: 04-08-2021 01:41 IST | Created: 04-08-2021 01:41 IST
Investigators say New York Governor Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women

An investigation into accusations of sexual harassment by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo found that he groped, kissed or made suggestive comments to 11 women and created a "toxic" workplace in violation of the law, the state's attorney general said on Tuesday, with the White House calling the allegations abhorrent. In a recorded statement issued after Attorney General Letitia James unveiled the findings of the five-month independent inquiry, Cuomo denied he had acted inappropriately and made clear he has no plans to resign. The civil investigation will not directly lead to criminal charges against Cuomo.

Cuomo, a third-term Democratic governor who has served in the post since 2011, called the findings inaccurate and unfair and said his words, gestures and demeanor were misinterpreted and were always intended to convey warmth to the women. The findings of the inquiry, detailed in a scathing 168-page report, dealt a devastating blow to Cuomo - once seen as a possible presidential candidate - and could hinder his administration.

"What this investigation revealed was a disturbing pattern of conduct by the governor of the great state of New York," said James, a Democrat. "These 11 women were in a hostile and toxic work environment." President Joe Biden, a fellow Democrat who has previously said Cuomo should resign if the allegations were shown by an investigation to be true, plans to give his reaction later in the day, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

"I don't know that anyone could have watched this morning (James' briefing) and not found the allegations to be abhorrent. I know I certainly did," Psaki said. The report's findings prompted some U.S. lawmakers and senior New York Democrats to demand Cuomo's resignation, underscoring the swift fall https://www.reuters.com/article/new-york-cuomo-profile/from-comforter-in-chief-to-persona-non-grata-cuomos-stunning-fall-idUSL1N2LA1YG for a governor who had became nationally popular last year in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic by presenting himself as an authoritative figure in daily televised news conferences.

The report said one woman Cuomo targeted was a state trooper. Anne Clark, who helped run the inquiry, said Cuomo stood behind the trooper in an elevator and "ran his finger from her neck down her spine and said, 'Hey you.'" Cuomo also ran an "open hand from her belly button to her hip where she carries her gun," Clark added. The trooper, according to Clark, said Cuomo inappropriately touched her from "her chest to her privates." Cuomo, a divorced father of three adult daughters, said he would "not be distracted" from his work battling the pandemic, a sign he has no intention of resigning.

"I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances," Cuomo said. "I am 63 years old. I've lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am. And that's not who I have ever been." "The facts are much different than what has been portrayed," Cuomo added.

'BLANKET DENIALS' The report rejected Cuomo's suggestions that his conduct was an innocent reflection of an affectionate Italian-American culture in which he was raised. Investigators found little credibility in his "blanket denials and lack of recollection as to specific incidents."

"What these witnesses - and many others - described is not just old-fashioned, affectionate behavior - it was sexual harassment," the report concluded. Carl Heastie, who as speaker of the Democratic-controlled New York Assembly has authorized an impeachment investigation into Cuomo's conduct, said the governor is "not fit for office."

Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the state Senate majority leader, urged Cuomo to "resign for the good of the state." Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who would take over if Cuomo resigns, said the investigation documented "repulsive" and "unlawful behavior." The investigation, involving interviews with 179 people, revealed a "climate of fear" in which Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, many of them young, and showed that his office retaliated against a former employee who accused him of wrongdoing, James said.

The inquiry concluded that Cuomo's conduct violated state and federal law but it did not make criminal referrals. Local prosecutors could pursue their own criminal investigations. Albany County District Attorney David Soares said he will request investigative materials from James and encouraged any victims to contact his office with information. James named two veteran outside attorneys to run the investigation: Joon Kim, a former federal prosecutor and acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, and Clark, an employment lawyer with experience in sexual harassment cases.

Kim said Cuomo's workplace was "rife with bullying, fear and intimidation" and one in which crossing him or his senior staff meant you would be "written off, cast aside or worse." Rita Glavin, a lawyer defending Cuomo against the sexual harassment complaints, released a lengthy "position statement" responding to the report and accused James of bias. The statement included pages of photographs of Cuomo embracing or kissing various political figures.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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