New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, report finds

3 August 2021, 20:38

The state's Attorney General Letitia James said Mr Cuomo had violated state and federal laws.
The state's attorney general Letitia James said Mr Cuomo had violated state and federal laws. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

A damning investigation into New York governor Andrew Cuomo has found that he sexually harassed multiple women, state attorney general Letitia James has announced.

The probe found that Mr Cuomo has been accused of sexually harassing multiple current and former state government employees, subjecting them to unwanted kissing and groping.

Two outside lawyers spent nearly five months interviewing 179 people, finding that the Cuomo administration was a "hostile work environment" and was "rife with fear and intimidation".

The investigation was commissioned last year after several women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the governor.

There were claims he inappropriately touched and sexually harassed women who worked with him or who he met at public events. One aide in his office said he groped her breast.

Anna Ruch told The New York Times he left her "shocked and embarrassed" after he tried to kiss her at a wedding reception in 2019 after they met for the first time.

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Another, Lindsey Boylan, said he kissed her on the lips after a meeting in his office and "would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs".

After Ms Boylan first made her allegations public in December, the Cuomo administration undercut her story by releasing personnel memos to media outlets revealing that she had resigned after being confronted about complaints that she belittled and shouted at her staff.

She has said those records "were leaked to the media in an effort to smear me".

Other aides alleged that the Democratic governor asked them questions about sex and dating, and gave them unwanted touching and grabbing.

Ms James said the investigation would not have been possible without the "heroic women who came forward".

"These interviews and pieces of evidence revealed a deeply disturbing yet clear picture: governor Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees in violation of federal and state laws," Ms James said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The probe involved investigators speaking with complainants, current and former members of the executive chamber, state troopers, additional state employees and others who interacted regularly with the governor.

There were a number of calls for Mr Cuomo to resign last year, including from two US senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, but Mr Cuomo refused to quit.

He has always denied touching anyone inappropriately, but he initially said he was sorry if his behaviour with women was "misinterpreted as unwanted flirtation".

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However, in recent months, he has said he did nothing wrong and has questioned the motives of accusers and critics.

He has also questioned the neutrality of the lawyers hired to investigate the allegations, as one of them, Joon Kim, was involved in previous investigations of corruption by people in Mr Cuomo's administration when he was a federal prosecutor in Manhattan.

The attorney general's report is expected to play an important role in an ongoing inquiry in the state Assembly into whether there are grounds for Mr Cuomo to be impeached.