ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated again Tuesday that he never touched anyone inappropriately.
The governor responded in a pre-recorded video to Attorney General Letitia James’s report that he sexually harassed multiple women — including former and current state employees as well as a state trooper — and created a hostile work environment.
Cuomo remained defiant Tuesday following the investigation’s findings, saying that “the facts are much different than what has been portrayed” and appeared to reject renewed calls for his resignation.
“I never touched anyone inappropriately, or made inappropriate sexual advances,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I am 63-years-old. I lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am and that is now who I have ever been. It’s important to me that you fully understand that.”
The attorney general announced Tuesday that Cuomo sexually harassed former and current state employees, in violation of both federal and state law, according to her officer’s investigation into the governor.
The nearly five-month investigation, conducted by two outside lawyers who spoke to 179 people, found that the Cuomo administration was a “hostile work environment” and that it was “rife with fear and intimidation.”
People interviewed included complainants, current and former members of the executive chamber, State troopers, additional state employees and others who interacted regularly with the governor. They also reviewed more than 74,000 piece of evidence, including documents, emails, text messages, audio files and pictures.
The attorney general’s office has been investigating Cuomo over his administration’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, as well as allegations of sexual harassment and improper behavior.
“The independent investigation has concluded that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple woman and in doing so violated federal and state law,” James said. “Specifically the investigation found that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York state employees by engaging in unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments.”
Last winter there was a chorus of calls for Cuomo’s resignation from many top elected Democrats in New York, including two U.S. senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. But Cuomo refused to quit and has been raising money for a fourth term in office.
His position on the allegations has also hardened into one of defiance. Cuomo has always denied touching anyone inappropriately, but he initially said he was sorry if his behavior with women was “misinterpreted as unwanted flirtation.”
The governor has consistently denied the allegations made against him. Just last week, during a coronavirus briefing, Gov. Cuomo said New Yorkers would be “shocked” when the investigation was concluded and they could hear his side of the story.
“This is a sad day for New York because independent investigators have concluded that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and, in doing so, broke the law,” James said. “I am grateful to all the women who came forward to tell their stories in painstaking detail, enabling investigators to get to the truth. No man — no matter how powerful — can be allowed to harass women or violate our human rights laws, period.”
Several women have accused Cuomo of unwanted kisses, touches and groping and inappropriate sexual remarks.
Former aide Lindsey Boylan said Cuomo once suggested a game of strip poker aboard his state-owned jet.
Another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo made sexual advances by making unwelcome comments, including asking if she ever had sex with older men.
The report also detailed, for the first time, allegations that Cuomo sexually harassed a female state trooper on his security detail. It said that the governor ran his hand or fingers across her stomach and her back, kissed her on the cheek, asked for her help in finding a girlfriend and asked why she didn’t wear a dress.
Investigators said they found all 11 women were credible, noting that their allegations were corroborated to varying degrees, including by other witnesses and contemporaneous text messages.
“These interviews and piece of evidence reveal a deeply disturbing, yet clear picture,” James said. “Governor Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees in violation of both federal and state law.”
On at least one occasion, the investigation found, Cuomo and his senior staff worked to retaliate against a former employee who accused him of wrongdoing. Cuomo was also found to have harassed women outside of government, the investigation found.
The governor questioned the neutrality of the lawyers hired by the attorney general to investigate the allegations. One of the attorneys, Joon Kim, was involved in previous investigations of corruption by people in Cuomo’s administration when he was a federal prosecutor in Manhattan. Cuomo hasn’t expressly said why he believes investigators would be biased.
James said her investigation has concluded. There were no referrals to criminal prosecutors, though that wouldn’t preclude local authorities from using the evidence and findings of the report to mount their own cases.
The governor said Tuesday he would welcome his day in court if it ever came to be, saying that the accusations against him inaccurately portray “everyday” interactions.
“I welcome the opportunity for a full and fair review before a judge and jury because this just did not happen,” Cuomo said. “Other complaints raised against me, questions that have sought to unfairly characterize and weaponize everyday interactions that I’ve had with everyday New Yorkers. I’ve been making the same gestures in public all my life. I actually learned it from my mother and from my father. It is meant to convey warmth, nothing more. Indeed there are hundreds, if not thousands of photos me using the same exact gesture. I do it with everyone.”
Attorney general’s press conference
Attorney Rita Glavin released a response of the report on allegations against the governor Tuesday:
Position Statement of Governor Cuomo by News 8 WROC on Scribd
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.