Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and created a culture of fear and intimidation, according to a report released Tuesday by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
The report found that the governor nonconsensually touched women in both his executive chamber and other state offices. According to the report, Cuomo’s office fostered an environment of “retaliation that appeared to not only to be condoned, but expected.”
The report found that from 2013-2020, 11 allegations of sexual harassment were raised and found credible against Cuomo. Investigators deemed the allegations detailed in the report to be “very well corroborated.” The report indicates that while Cuomo “generally denied” the allegations made, he also “admitted that he ‘may’ have kissed certain staff members on the lips.” According to the report, Cuomo kissed his victims on the lips, harassed them with sexual comments, and in several instances groped them.
James said that Cuomo’s misconduct “corrodes the very fabric and character of our state government.” At a news conference, the attorney general praised the courage of Cuomo’s victims. “None of this would have been illuminated if not for the brave women who came forward,” James noted.
One woman, Lindsey Boylan, accused Cuomo of kissing her on the lips as well as suggesting that the two play strip poker on a work trip. In February, Boylan published an account of her experience and detailed her reasons for coming forward. “No woman should feel forced to hide their experiences of workplace intimidation, harassment and humiliation — not by the Governor or anyone else,” said Boylan. According to the attorney general’s report, Cuomo even harassed a state trooper in his protective detail.
The report also addressed the retaliation women who went public with allegations say they faced. According to the report, such retaliation was viewed as part and parcel of working in Cuomo’s executive chamber. “Everybody, for the most part, gets promoted because they’re in the good graces of the Governor,” one victim said.
The backlash against Cuomo is growing as both sides of the political aisle react to the report’s findings. New York State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins was firm in her disavowal of Cuomo: [T]he governor must resign for the good of the state. . . . it should be clear to everyone that he can no longer serve as governor.” On the right, New York Rep. Elise Stefanik called for consequences for Cuomo’s actions. “No one is above the law and today justice must be served. Governor Cuomo must resign and be arrested immediately,” said Stefanik.
Cuomo has denied the charges in the attorney general’s report, alleging that “others” had fed “ugly stories to the press.” In a statement released Tuesday, Cuomo wholeheartedly repudiated the allegations: “I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.”