WINDSOR TERRACE — Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and retaliated against one of them for going public with her allegations, according to a report issued Tuesday, Aug. 3, by New York State Attorney General Letitia James.
The 165-page report, which detailed the findings of a probe by two independent investigators appointed by James, concluded that Cuomo engaged in unwanted groping, kissing and hugging, and made inappropriate comments to several women.
The governor and top aides engaged in retaliatory behavior by trying to discredit and disparage one of the accusers, the investigators found.
In addition, the investigators — former federal prosecutor Joon H. Kim and employment lawyer Anne L. Clark — found that the governor and top staffers cultivated a toxic work environment that fed on fear and intimidation of workers.
Cuomo’s actions violated state and federal laws, as well as the executive chamber’s written policies against sexual harassment, the probe found.
“This is a sad day for New York because independent investigators concluded that Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, and in doing so, broke the law,” James said in a statement. “I am grateful to all of the women who came forward to tell their stories in painstaking detail, enabling investigators to get to the truth.”
Starting in December 2020, several women — including current and former state employees — came forward alleging Cuomo had sexually harassed them.
On March 1, Cuomo referred the matter to the attorney general’s office. As a result of that referral, James launched an investigation and tapped Kim and Clark to lead it.
During the course of the investigation, 179 individuals were interviewed, including complainants, current and former staffers of the governor, and state troopers. More than 74,000 documents, emails, texts, and pictures were reviewed as evidence.
Cuomo was interviewed for 11 hours by investigators on July 17, although the fact that he was questioned wasn’t made public until July 31. During the interview, the governor denied the most serious allegations and claimed to not recall the circumstances surrounding other allegations, according to James.
The investigation’s findings are based on “credible witnesses and corroborating evidence,” James said.
Cuomo responded to the report by denying the allegations in a televised statement.
“The facts are much different than what has been portrayed,” he said.
“This just did not happen,” he added, referring to one accusation of inappropriate touching.
“I am the same person in public that I am in private,” the governor said, adding that he has kissed people on the forehead as a way of a warm greeting and that he meant no sexual inference by it.
“On occasion, I slip and say ‘Sweetheart.’ I try to put people at ease,” he said.
However, he said he plans to make wholesale changes in the executive chamber to prevent any future incidents of sexual harassment.
Cuomo did apologize to one of his accusers, Charlotte Bennett, and said he was simply trying to help her deal with the trauma of a previous sexual assault. He revealed that a member of his family, whom he didn’t name, is a sexual assault survivor.
“This young woman brought it all back. I was trying to make sure she was working through it the best way she could,” he said of Bennett. But, he said, he “brought my personal experiences into the workplace and I should not have.”