December 9, 2021

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Cuomo probe finds he sexually harassed 11 women – even the doctor who gave him a Covid test

The attorney general of New York announced the completed investigation into Andrew Cuomo found he sexually harassed current and former employees, plus previously unknown members of the public.

In one instance, Mr Cuomo sexually harassed the doctor who gave him a Covid test live on air by telling her: “Nice to see you, doctor, you make that gown look good.”

An unidentified executive assistant said Mr Cuomo grabbed her breast under her blouse and grabbed her butt on multiple occasions, while an unidentified state employee said he also grabbed her butt while taking a selfie.

In another previously unreported complaint, Virginia Limmiatis said Mr Cuomo ran “two fingers across her chest” while reading the name “National Grid” written across the front of her shirt. Leaning in with his face close to her cheek, Mr Cuomo ran brushed his hand below her collarbone after reportedly saying: “I’m going to say I see a spider on your shoulder.”

When a state Trooper told the governor she was getting married, he replied that marriage “always ends in divorce, and you lose money, and your sex drive goes down”.

The findings come after a five-month investigation into allegations from multiple women, which Mr Cuomo denied during a live stream.

At a press conference to announce the conclusion of the probe, AG Letitia James said the harassment of “multiple women” created a hostile work environment and violated state and federal laws.

“Specifically, the investigation found that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York State employees by engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive sexual nature, that created a hostile work environment for women,” she said.

She said the women, many of whom were young, experienced unwanted groping, kisses, hugging, and inappropriate comments, and that they were not isolated incidents but were rather part of a pattern, which also included a woman outside of government.

The 165-page report also found that Mr Cuomo and senior staffed retaliated against a former employee who accused him of wrongdoing.

The probe appeared to confirm reporting from the New Yorker that Mr Cuomo’s team leaked the confidential records of former staffer Lindsey Boylan, who accused the governor of kissing her and going out of his way to touch her lower back, arms and legs.

Following Ms Boylan’s allegations in late February multiple women came out with similar stories. Mr Cuomo’s former executive assistant, Charlotte Bennett, told The New York Times that the governor made sexual overtures.

Mr Cuomo requested the attorney generals office investigate after at least seven women made allegations of improper behaviour. While he has apologized for making anyone feel uncomfortable or saying comments that were “insensitive or too personal”, he has repeatedly denied any allegations of wrongdoing.

The Independent has reached out to the governor’s office for a response to the findings, which come on the heels of a Times report that Mr Cuomo was grilled for 11 hours in a videotaped interview in July.

There were tense moments during the interview, with the governor questioning the independence of an investigator, Joon H Kim, over previous investigations he has conducted into the governor and his allies, the Times said.

Mr Kim and co-lead investigator Anne L Clark wrote in the report that Mr Cuomo’s behaviour extended beyond his own staff to other members of the public and government employees, including a State Trooper within his protective detail.

“We also conclude that the Executive Chamber’s culture — one 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,” they wrote.

Ms James said the findings were based on interviews with 179 people and a review of 74,000 pieces of evidence that painted a “deeply disturbing yet clear picture.” The report did not, however, conclude whether the conduct should be subject to criminal prosecution.

Kristen Gillibrand, one of New York’s two Senators, said the report was “serious” and “damning” and that Mr Cuomo should step down.

“His actions are inappropriate for the governor of New York state. He should resign,” she said, according to CNN.

Calls for Mr Cuomo’s resignation were joined by the attorney for one of his accusers, Charlotte Bennet. Lawyer Debra Katz told the outlet that the findings confirmed Ms Bennet’s account of sexual harassment.

“Sadly, Charlotte was not the only extraordinary woman whose career in the Executive Department was cut short and derailed as a result of the Governor’s illegal behaviour,” she said.

“The Governor’s actions have deprived New Yorkers of the professionalism, passion, and dedication to their state that Charlotte and the many others who refused to submit to his advances have to offer.”

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