NEW YORK (AP) – An investigation found that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually molested several women inside and outside the state government and worked to get revenge on one of his accusers, the New York attorney general said Tuesday in a finding, that will surely renew the demands for the resignation or impeachment of the Democrats.
The nearly five-month investigation, conducted by two outside lawyers who spoke to 179 people, found the Cuomo government to be a “hostile work environment” and “fearful and intimidated”.
Those interviewed included complainants, current and former members of the Executive Chamber, state troops, other civil servants and others who were in regular contact with the governor.
“These interviews and evidence revealed a deeply disturbing but clear picture: Governor Cuomo has sexually molested current and former state officials in violation of federal and state laws,” New York attorney general Letitia James said at a news conference Tuesday.
James said their investigation was complete. There were no law enforcement referrals, although this did not prevent local authorities from using the evidence and findings of the report to raise their own cases.
The investigation revealed at least once that Cuomo and his officers were working to get revenge on a former employee who accused him of wrongdoing. Cuomo is also said to have molested women outside the government, the investigation found.
The report also contained, for the first time, allegations that Cuomo sexually molested a police officer in his security details. It said the governor ran his hand or fingers over her stomach and back, kissed her on the cheek, asked her for help in finding a friend, and asked why she wasn’t wearing a dress.
“These brave women came forward to tell the truth to power, expressing their belief that while the governor may be powerful, the truth is even more,” said Joon Kim, one of the lawyers who led the investigation. said at the press conference.
Investigators said they found all eleven women to be credible and found that their allegations were confirmed to varying degrees, including by other witnesses and simultaneous text messages.
Cuomo faced several allegations last winter of inappropriately touching and sexually harassing women who worked with him or whom he met at public events. An employee in his office said he felt her chest.
Another, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo kissed her on the lips after meeting in his office and “would do anything to touch my lower back, arms and legs”.
After Boylan first made her allegations public in December, the Cuomo administration undermined her story by posting staff notes to the media that revealed that Boylan had resigned after facing complaints belittling her and yelling at her staff.
Boylan said the record was “released to the media to defame me.”
Other aides said the governor asked them unsolicited personal questions about sex and dating. A former assistant, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo asked if she was open to sex with an older man.
“Some suffered from unwanted touch and grasping of their most intimate body parts. Others have suffered repeated abusive, sexually suggestive, or gender-based comments, ”Kim said on Tuesday. “Some of them endured both. Neither of them welcomed it. And everyone found it unsettling, humiliating, uncomfortable and inappropriate. “
Last winter there was a chorus of calls for Cuomo’s resignation from many high-ranking Democrats in New York, including two US Senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. However, Cuomo refused to resign and raised money for a fourth term.
His position on the allegations has also hardened into an attitude of defiance. Cuomo has always denied touching anyone inappropriately, but initially said he was sorry if his behavior with women was “misinterpreted as undesirable flirtation”. He’s been more combative in recent months, saying he didn’t do anything wrong and questioning the motives of accusers and critics.
He has also questioned the neutrality of the attorney general’s lawyers to investigate the allegations. Kim was involved in an earlier investigation into corruption by someone in Cuomo’s administration when he was a federal attorney in Manhattan. Cuomo hasn’t specifically said why he thinks this is biasing Kim.
In the hours leading up to James’s announcement, Cuomo’s office issued numerous press releases, including the completion of mixed-use homes in Buffalo, the construction of a new terminal worth $ 3.9 billion at Kennedy Airport, and JetBlue’s decision to make its headquarters to leave in New York. While James was speaking, Cuomo’s publicists issued a press release about reclaiming the sites of old power plants.
The Attorney General’s report is expected to play an important role in an ongoing investigation in the State Assembly into whether there are grounds for impeachment of Cuomo.
The gathering hired its own legal team to investigate Cuomo’s behavior as well as other allegations of wrongdoing. Legislature is investigating the help Cuomo received from senior staff to write a book about the pandemic, the special access Cuomo relatives were given to COVID-19 testing last year, and the government’s decision to share some Withheld data on deaths in nursing homes for several months.
Some members of the Judiciary Committee have stated that they expect James’ report to be “critical” to the impeachment investigation.
New York State regulations state that sexual harassment includes unwanted behavior of a sexual nature – from unwanted flirting to sexual jokes – that creates an offensive work environment regardless of the perpetrator’s intent.
The governor, on the other hand, has repeatedly argued that he did not want to harass anyone. His office said he had completed state-mandated sexual harassment training but did not provide any documentation to support it.
Cuomo campaigned for a landmark 2019 state law to make it easier for sexual harassment victims to prove their case in court. Alleged victims no longer have to meet the high bar of proving that sexual harassment is “severe and ubiquitous”.
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