New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women by groping, hugging, engaging in unwanted kisses, and making inappropriate comments to them, a report from the New York attorney general’s office concluded Tuesday.
Cuomo not only sexually harassed current and former employees, but also harassed members of the public and other New York state employees, including a state trooper on his protective detail, the 165-page report found. When one former Cuomo aide, Lindsey Boylan, came forward with her story, Cuomo’s staffers retaliated against her.
“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,” concluded the report, which was led by independent investigators and has been in the works for months.
Nearly 180 people were interviewed in the probe, and more than 74,000 records, texts, pictures, and emails were used as evidence.
Cuomo denied to investigators that he had ever touched anyone inappropriately, although he didn’t dispute that he regularly hugged people and kissed them on the forehead, as well as commented on staffers’ appearance. The report’s investigators said that they found Cuomo’s “denials and explanations around specific allegations to be contrived.”
“In his testimony, the Governor suggested that the complainants were—and must be—motivated by politics, animosity, or some other reason,” the report reads. “He also expressed his view that this investigation itself—and the investigators conducting the investigation—were politically motivated, an assertion that we saw in the documentary evidence and other witnesses’ testimony was part of the planned response to the investigation almost as soon as it commenced.”
Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement that the release of the report marked a “sad day.”
“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,” she said.
Although several of the women named in the report have previously come forward, the report does include new accusations against Cuomo, including how the governor harassed a female trooper. Shortly after meeting her in November 2017, Cuomo asked to have her added to his protective detail—even though she didn’t have enough expertise to join.
Once she joined, Cuomo ran his hand across her stomach as she held the door open for him at an event, according to the report. He also ran his finger down her neck and back while she stood in front of him in an elevator, kissed her on the cheek in front of another trooper, and made suggestive comments such as asking why she didn’t wear a dress and wondering why she would get married when, he said, marriages means “your sex drive goes down.”
He also asked for her help finding a girlfriend and said he wanted to date someone who “[c]an handle pain,” according to the report.
These interactions were offensive and uncomfortable for the trooper, who noticed that Cuomo treated her differently than he treated the men. Other troopers corroborated the female trooper’s allegations.
The report also found that Cuomo asked women in his employ to help him find a girlfriend and about their relationships, groped at least two female staffers’ butts, and exclusively called one “sweetheart” or “darling.”
He also groped the breast of one state employee, who said she’d planned to take the incident “to the grave”—but came forward after she saw Cuomo declare publicly that he’d never touched anyone inappropriately, according to the report.
Cuomo asked one woman “to look up car parts on eBay on his computer, which she had to bend over to do, while wearing a skirt and heels, as the governor sat directly behind her in his office, which made her feel uncomfortable,” the report found.
He instructed that same employee to soak up information like a sponge, then took to calling her “sponge.” The nickname, the report said, was “embarrassing, condescending, and demeaning” in the eyes of the employee.
“I think that he definitely knew what he was doing and it was almost as if he would do these things and know that he could get away with it because of the fear that he knew we had,” one staffer told investigators.