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Sexual Assault & Intimidation Charges Against Governor Cuomo Confirmed by Investigation; Calls for Resignation Mount

Governor Cuomo's Flickr page
Governor Andrew Cuomo, seen here at an event in March, faces calls for his resignation after Attorney General's independent investigation into charges of sexual harassment and intimidation.

(NOTE: this is a developing story that will be update as new information emerges)
A scathing report out of the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James finds Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, both on his staff and outside. The investigation was ordered by the Governor’s office after allegations surfaced, conducted by two independent law firms.

Attorney Anne Clark was one of the investigation’s leaders. She says interviews with multiple alleged victims led to conclusions of wrongdoing.

“We find the Governor on many occasions engaged in sex-based harassing conduct and conversations. The most serious was the governor’s unwelcome physical contact with women, including touching intimate body parts.”

Clark adds that conduct included touching of breasts, buttocks, hair, kissing and hugging. She says the accounts by the alleged victims were corroborated by writings, text messages at the times of the incidents, and testimony from friends or colleagues that the women told others about the Governor’s harassment.

Clark notes the conduct is criminal, violating both federal and state laws, some of which led to specific policies within the Cuomo administration.

“Both federal and state law prohibit gender-based harassment in the workplace. In fact the Governor himself, in 2019, passed a law that eliminated the need that harassing conduct needed to be severe or pervasive. In New York a woman need only prove that she was treated less well … because of her gender.”

Attorney Joon Kim, another investigator, says in addition to the physical conduct, the probe found evidence that Cuomo intimidated and retaliated against those who made clams against him. He adds the report identifies a culture that exists in the administration.

“Words that witnesses used repeatedly to describe it include, toxic, hostile, abusive. Others use words like, fear, intimidation, bullying, vindictive. As one senior staffer stated bluntly, as the sexual harassment allegation became public, … ‘hopefully, when this is all done, people will realize the culture, even outside of the sexual harassment stuff, is not something you can get away with. You can’t berate and terrify people 24/7.’”

Attorney General James is not planning on criminal charges, though she says the report is available to any prosecutors in the jurisdictions in which the alleged victims could bring charges. An ongoing state investigation can also access the findings and witness testimony.

“This is a sad day for New York because independent investigators have concluded that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and, in doing so, broke the law,” said Attorney General James. “I am grateful to all the women who came forward to tell their stories in painstaking detail, enabling investigators to get to the truth. No man — no matter how powerful — can be allowed to harass women or violate our human rights laws, period.”

Calls for Cuomo’s resignation pour in after investigation released

State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt in a release called it a sobering day.

“The Attorney General’s findings confirm and reinforce the allegations brought by the brave women who came forward against a powerful figure — that Andrew Cuomo is a serial harasser, unfit to hold public office,” Ortt said in a written statement. “In the wake of another devastating report, now more than ever Andrew Cuomo must resign. If he fails to do so, the legislature must immediately reconvene to take action to remove him.”

Sexual assault victims advocates also seized in the findings. President of Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment (PAVE) Angela Rose says there is a positive outcome for all assault survivors.

"The findings of the investigation released today represent a victory for all of the survivors of sexual harassment and retaliation by Governor Andrew Cuomo and senior members of his administration. The statement from New York’s Attorney General sends a bold and powerful message that a safe work environment is mandatory. We applaud Lindsey Boylan for shattering for silence and we support everyone who has been suffering in silence. Abuse, harassment, hostility, and vindictiveness are never acceptable; being at the receiving end of these is never the survivor’s fault. Your stories matter, you matter, and you are not alone."

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.