Governor Cuomo has been charged with sexually harassing multiple women, fostering "a toxic workplace that enabled harassment and created a hostile work environment where staffers did not feel comfortable coming forward with complaints about sexual harassment due to a climate of fear and the power dynamics." New York Attorney General Letitia James on Tuesday announced that Cuomo has "violated state and federal laws" with his behavior.
The details have been provided to the public in a 168-page report released by the office of the Attorney General. James public statement begins below at the 23-minute timestamp in the video:
The allegations include testimony from former and current state employees. ABCNews reported a timeline of the public accusations from several of the complainants.
The report is based on an investigation that was "thorough and independent." The report is a scathing review of specific allegations from the employees with 11 total complainants. According to the attorneys who investigated the case, these were not isolated incidents but "rather constituted a pattern" of behavior. Some examples of the testimony are recounted below:
- Trooper Number 1 describes the Governor "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."
- Charlotte Bennett, an aide to Governor Cuomo, told her "during the pandemic that he was 'lonely' and 'wanted to be touched.'” Bennett is a survivor of sexual abuse and had shared that with the Governor.
- Virginia Limmiatis describes an interaction where he "ran two fingers across her chest, pressing down on each of the letters as he did so and reading out the name of the Energy Company as he went. The Governor then leaned in, with his face close to Ms. Limmiatis’s cheek, and said, “I’m going to say I see a spider on your shoulder,” before brushing his hand in the area between her shoulder and breasts (and below her collarbone). "
- Lindsey Boylan, who was Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Special Advisor to the Governor, reported that Governor Cuomo "physically touched her on various parts of her body, including her waist, legs, and back; made inappropriate comments, including saying to her once on a plane, words to the effect of, 'let’s play strip poker'; and kissed her on the cheeks and, on one occasion, on the lips."
- Ana Liss, an aide in the Executive Chamber from 2013 to 2015, reported that he "repeatedly addressed her as 'sweetheart' or 'darling' on occasion, kissed her on the cheeks and hand, touched and held her hands, and slid his hand around her lower waist."
The Governor, in his testimony, repeatedly denied or rationalized his behavior, saying at times that his behavior was "misinterpreted." However, according to the report, he did "not dispute that he sometimes commented on staff members’ appearance and attire (although generally only to compliment), and stated that being “old fashioned,” he sometimes used terms of endearment such as “honey,” “darling,” or “sweetheart.” He also did not dispute that he gave regular hugs and kisses on the cheek and forehead. But he did dispute the way in which the complainants had interpreted those actions.
The investigators found the Governor's "denials and explanations around specific allegations to be contrived. For example, he testified that: Executive Assistant #1 was the one who initiated the hugs, not him; Ms. Bennett was the one who raised the topic of potential girlfriends, not him; and he called Executive Assistant #1, and Ms. McGrath “mingle mamas,” but he never talked to them about whether they cheated on their spouses. 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."
The victims were justified in their fears of retaliation because of actions taken on several occasions by the Executive Chamber. For example, the report states:
"In response to Ms. Boylan’s allegation of sexual harassment, first made in a tweet on December 13, 2020, the Executive Chamber engaged in a series of responsive actions that were intended to discredit and disparage Ms. Boylan. Among other things, senior staff within the Executive Chamber—along with a group of outside advisors—engaged in a series of retaliatory actions, including: (1) disseminating to the press previously confidential and privileged files that related to complaints that had been made against Ms. Boylan prior to her departure from the Executive Chamber; and (2) preparing a proposed op-ed, originally drafted by the Governor, that contained personal and professional attacks on Ms. Boylan and then sharing (both written drafts and the substance) with a number of current and former Executive Chamber employees. Those involved have justified these actions as necessary to respond to what they viewed as misleading statements made by Ms. Boylan about the reasons for her departure and an appropriate response to what they believed were improper political and retaliatory motives for her allegations. However, the confidential internal documents were released to reporters only after Ms. Boylan made allegations of sexual harassment against the Governor, and we do not find credible the claim that they were released only to rebut other statements Ms. Boylan had made days earlier about the manner in which she departed the Executive Chamber."
Several other complainants reported similar levels of retaliation. Some in the Executive Chamber "expressed surprise" at the allegations, "many recognized a particularly 'toxic' and 'emotionally abusive' environment within the Executive Chamber under Governor Cuomo’s administration."
Cuomo delivered a 14-minute public response to the allegations on Tuesday, stating that "it has been a hard and a painful period for [him] and his family, especially as others feed ugly stories to the press." He categorically denied that he touched women inappropriately.
"First, I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. That is just not who I am, and it's not who I have ever been."
His full statement can be seen below:
Cuomo's attorney, Rita Glavin, issued an 85-page position statement on the allegations on Tuesday, stating in her opening remarks that it was an "utterly biased investigation."
"Regrettably, as the findings in the Report show, the investigators have directed an utterly biased investigation and willfully ignored evidence inconsistent with the narrative they have sought to weave from the outset. In coming to their conclusion, they ignored the Governor’s testimony and substantial corroborating evidence."
An email posted by Jack Posobiec on his Twitter account shows a February email from Cuomo's brother and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo allegedly drafting a response for his brother to respond to the allegations.
According to a report by the NYPost, the tv anchor was "enlisted to advise his brother as the sprawling sexual harassment scandal threatened to engulf his administration. The CNN anchor apologized for doing so after his role was exposed in the press." He said he could be objective about just about any subject, but not [his] family.