Investigators appointed by New York Attorney General Letitia James published a report today finding that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and presided over a hostile work environment, in violation of federal and state law.
The report details claims of 11 victims, who have been current and former New York State employees. The women were subject to, among other things, “unwelcome and nonconsensual touching” by the governor, as well as “numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.”
The investigators revealed that Cuomo’s “sexually harassing behavior was not limited to members of his own staff, but extended to other State employees, including a State Trooper on his protective detail and members of the public.”
The harassment led to a culture in the governor’s office “filled with fear and intimidation, while at the same time normalizing the Governor’s frequent flirtations and gender-based comments—contributed to the conditions that allowed the sexual harassment to occur and persist. That culture also influenced the improper and inadequate ways in which the [governor’s] Executive Chamber has responded to allegations of harassment.”
On March 1, 2021, the governor’s office made a referral pursuant to state law for Attorney General Tish James to select independent lawyers to investigate “allegations of and circumstances surrounding sexual harassment claims made against the governor.”
This referral followed claims in December 2020 from Lindsey Boylan, one of the women identified in the report, that he sexually harassed her for “many years” while witnesses merely watched and let it continue. Reports have since emerged that Cuomo’s office retaliated by leaking confidential information about her.
In a statement, AG James said, “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. 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.”
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuomo was widely praised for his leadership, though his efforts to hide nursing home deaths in the state and use of prison labor concerned advocates. Perceptions about his leadership, regular press conferences, and CNN appearances even led to some Democrats signaling they would support him in a presidential run.
Cuomo responded to the report in a video saying that “the facts are much different than what has been portrayed.”
Several NYC officials have since called for Cuomo’s resignation.
“It is beyond clear that Andrew Cuomo is not fit to hold office and can no longer serve as Governor,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stated. “He must resign, and if he continues to resist and attack the investigators who did their jobs, he should be impeached immediately.”