ALBANY, N.Y. (WETM) – A recently released report from the New York Attorney Generals Office found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo repeatedly sexually harassed current and former staff.
The investigation found that the Cuomo administration was a “hostile work environment” and that it was “rife with fear and intimidation.” The investigators spoke with 179 people and reviewed 74,000 pieces of evidence.
“Some suffered through unwanted touching and grabbing of their most intimate body parts. Others suffered through repeated offensive, sexually suggestive, or gender-based comments,” Joon Kim, an independent investigator involved in the probe said. “A number of them endured both.”
In total, 11 women have come forward and accused the governor of sexual harassment. One woman described as “Executive Assistant #1” said Cuomo kissed her on the lips at least once, grabbed her butt while hugging her and once reached under her blouse and grabbed her breast.
“He approached me and hugged me, kissed me on the cheek, put his hand around my waist,” Anna Liss, a separate woman who came forward with allegations against the governor after two former Cuomo aides said Cuomo engaged in inappropriate behaviors. “Young women early in our careers were powerless in that environment to stick up for ourselves.”
Governor Cuomo responded to the findings on Tuesday afternoon, and in a recorded statement, dismissed the findings from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation.
The governor alleged the findings were not impartial, saying: “The facts are much different than what has been portrayed. I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. That is just not who I am and that’s just not who I’ve ever been.”
Local leaders across the Southern Tier called on Cuomo to resign.
“I think the Attorney General made it clear that Gov. Cuomo’s behavior fostered a toxic work environment,” Assemblymember Philip Palmesano said.
Going forward, New York State Attorney General Letitia James said her investigation has concluded. There were no referrals to criminal prosecutors, though that’s not to say local authorities couldn’t use the evidence and findings of the report to mount their own cases.
“The report speaks for itself,” James said, “Right now I think we should all be focused on the courageous and the bravery of the women who came forward. And all of us should be focused on keeping women safe, believing women and allowing them to speak their truth, and that’s exactly what this document does.”