Labor & Employment

Investigators conclude Cuomo sexually harassed women; 'the typical rules did not apply,' says one employee

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Andrew Cuomo in 2014

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014. Photo by Diana Robinson via Wikimedia Commons.

A report by investigators appointed by New York Attorney General Letitia James has found that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, including former and current state employees.

The report concluded that sexual harassment by Cuomo and retaliation against a former employee by the governor’s executive chamber violated multiple state and federal laws. They included Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the New York State Human Rights Law and Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act.

An Aug. 3 press release is here, and the Aug. 3 report is here. The New York Times (here and here) and the Washington Post have coverage.

Investigators found that Cuomo sexually harassed women through unwanted touching and groping and by offensive and sexually suggestive comments. In addition, investigators said, women faced a hostile work environment created through a culture of fear and intimidation and the normalization of inappropriate conduct.

Cuomo grabbed one executive assistant’s buttocks during hugs and while taking selfies with her, kissed her at least once on the lips, and on one occasion reached under her blouse and grabbed her breast, the report said. He also sexually harassed at least 10 others, according to the report.

One harassed employee said the governor called her “sweetheart” and “darling,” commented on her appearance, kissed her on the cheeks and hand, touched and held her hands, slid his hand around her lower waist, and asked whether she had a boyfriend.

“For whatever reason, in his office the rules were different,” she said, according to the report. “Even though it was strange and uncomfortable and technically not permissible in a typical workplace environment, I was in this mindset that it was the twilight zone and … the typical rules did not apply.”

The retaliation took place after a former executive employee tweeted an allegation of sexual harassment. Gubernatorial aides released details from her personnel file in a bid to discredit her, the report said.

Investigators interviewed 179 people during the course of the investigation. More than 74,000 documents, emails, texts and pictures were also reviewed.

Cuomo denied the most serious allegations when he answered questions under oath, offering blanket denials or failing to recall specific incidents.

The investigators said the governor’s recollection “stood in stark contrast to the strength, specificity and corroboration of the complainants’ recollections, as well as the reports of many other individuals who offered observations and experiences of the governor’s conduct.”

James commented at a press conference Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.

“This investigation has revealed conduct that corrodes the very fabric and character of our state government,” she said.

In a prerecorded statement, Cuomo said he has never touched anyone inappropriately and has never made inappropriate sexual advances, according to the New York Times.

He said his hugs and kisses are “meant to convey warmth, nothing more.” As he spoke, a slide show showed him hugging and kissing friends, strangers and powerful people.

“The facts are much different than what has been portrayed,” Cuomo said in the statement.

The investigation was led by Joon H. Kim, a former acting U.S. attorney in New York and a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, and by Anne L. Clark, a partner at Vladeck, Raskin & Clark who is a well-known employment and discrimination attorney.

Updated Aug. 3 at 1:05 p.m. to add the prerecorded statement from Cuomo.

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