New York (AP) – Unwanted kisses and touches, inappropriate comments and a “hostile work atmosphere” with a “climate of fear”: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has allegedly sexually assaulted several women, according to an investigation.
“We note that the governor has sexually harassed a number of former and current state employees, including inadvertently touching them and making abusive, sexually suggestive comments that have created a hostile work environment for women,” according to a report of 168. pages that was published. Tuesday in New York by Attorney General Letitia James.
179 witnesses were interviewed for the investigation and some 7,400 pieces of evidence were examined, James said at a news conference. This resulted in “a very disturbing but clear picture” of a “disturbing pattern of behaviour” from the governor. These included unwanted touches, kisses, hugs and inappropriate comments. In addition, Cuomo created a “hostile work atmosphere” and a “climate of fear” for women. The allegations mainly come from 11 women. “I believe these women, and I thank them for their courage,” James said.
Your work was done with that, the attorney general said. “The report speaks for itself.” It was a civil investigation that would not automatically lead to criminal consequences – even if those could arise separately based on the published evidence. “The next steps lie with the governor, with parliament and with the public.” There was initially no response from Cuomo.
The 63-year-old had previously apologized for possible “misinterpretations” of his behavior, but dismissed all allegations and adamantly refused to resign multiple times. Members of their own Democratic Party also called for this after several women publicly accused Cuomo of sexual harassment earlier this year. The allegations are reminiscent of sexual harassment cases in the wake of #MeToo, a move Cuomo once publicly praised.
Attorney General James opened an investigation in March. US President Joe Biden had expressed his support for the investigation through his spokeswoman. Cuomo had agreed to work with the investigators and was interrogated by the investigators for hours, according to media reports.
In the corona pandemic, Cuomo had initially become the bearer of hope for the Democratic Party. He presented himself as an alternative to then-Republican President Donald Trump. Almost daily he gave clear information and PowerPoint presentations about the development of the infection process in his state and the measures to be taken against it. The press conferences gained cult status, were followed live by millions of people around the world – and the governor even received an Emmy, the most important television award in the US. The divorced father of three grown daughters, whose father Mario was governor of New York between 1983 and 1994, has been in office since 2011 – and was re-elected to a third term in 2019.
In addition to the sexual harassment allegations, Cuomo threatens to face even more problems: Due to the number of deaths in nursing homes related to the pandemic, the governor was suspected of concealing the true extent of the drama. He is also said to have aggressively attacked political critics and tried to intimidate them.