Gov Cuomo’s own words come back to bite after AG finds he sexually harassed women, broke fed and state laws

A damning investigation conducted through the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James has found that Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo frequently sexually harassed a number of women and in doing so broke a number of federal and state laws, but added that her office won’t be filing charges.

The probe, which was coordinated through James’ office but conducted by two independent lawyers, found a “hostile work environment” existed within Cuomo’s administration that was “rife with fear and intimidation.”

At least on one occasion, the investigation found, the governor and senior staff members engaged in retaliatory actions against a former female employee who had accused him of wrongdoing. In addition, the lawyers found that Cuomo also harassed women who were not in state government.

The investigation stemmed from multiple allegations of sexual harassment and other inappropriate actions including touching and kissing from a number of women who had either worked with or for Cuomo or whom he encountered at public functions.

One aide, in fact, testified that he groped her breast, while another, Lindsey Boyland, said that the governor kissed her on her lips following a meeting in his office and that he “would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs.”

After she publicly made her allegations in December, Cuomo’s office tried to discredit her statements by releasing a number of personnel memos that said she resigned her position after she was shown complaints about her belittling and yelling at staff. She later responded by saying the records “were leaked to the media in an effort to smear me.”

Meanwhile, other aides testified that Cuomo asked them inappropriate personal questions about dating and sex. One former aide named Charlotte Bennett claimed that the Democratic governor once asked her if she would consider having sex with a man much older than her.

Earlier this year the frequency and tenor of the complaints and allegations grew into a cacophony of calls from several top Democratic elected officials in the state including its two U.S. senators, Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Kristin Gillibrand. However, the governor refused to step down and instead has been engaged in raising funds for a fourth term.

Cuomo has always denied the allegations but did apologize earlier this spring if he ever made anyone feel uncomfortable.

In a Tuesday press conference, James said that investigating attorneys “reviewed more than 74,000 pieces of evidence” during their probe, “including documents, emails, texts, audio files, and pictures.”

“Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed several women,” James said, noting further that his actions violated state and federal laws.

“This investigation has revealed conduct that corrodes the very fabric and character of our state government and shines light on injustice that can be present at the highest level of government,” said James.

She added, however, that her office would not be filing any charges, and that the individual women could pursue civil recourse or that local police agencies could use the final report to consider charges.

“We have issued a report and all throughout the process we put our heads down, we’ve done our job. And at this point…we’re going to allow the chips to fall where they may,” James said.

Cuomo is accused of “a pattern of inappropriate conduct” with a staff member described as “Executive Assistant #1,” whom he allegedly kissed on the lips. He was also accused of serially harassing a female New York State Trooper, running “his hand across her stomach, from her belly button to her right hip,” as she held a door open, according to the report.

The results of the investigation are likely to influence whether the state legislature’s Democratic majority will move forward with an impeachment of Cuomo, and to that end, his own words may doom him.

In March 2013, amid the rise of the #MeToo movement, he tweeted: “There should be a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment & must send a clear message that this behavior is not tolerated.”

In March, President Joe Biden, who himself has been accused of sexual assault by a former Senate staffer, said that if Cuomo is found to have sexually harassed women, he should resign.

“I think he’ll probably end up being prosecuted, too,” Biden told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos at the time.

Jon Dougherty

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