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.
US President Joe Biden is now calling on Cuomo to resign. “I think he should step down,” Democrat Biden said at his party friend’s White House in New York.
“Disturbing but clear picture”
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.”
Cuomo speaks out
Cuomo again dismissed the allegations via video message shortly after the press conference. “The facts are very different from what they are presented here,” the governor said. “I want you to hear directly from me that I have never touched or approached anyone inappropriately. I am 63 years old. I have spent my entire adult life in the public eye. It’s just not who I am, or who I’ve ever been.”
Cuomo again apologized to some women. He just wanted to help and express gratitude and friendship. He takes responsibility and wants to bring about changes. For example, he hired an expert to train his entire team. In the video message, Cuomo did not comment on a possible resignation, which party comrades had repeatedly asked for. He also reiterated his response to the investigation in an 85-page report from his lawyer, which he published on Tuesday.
Cancellation requirements also from your own party
Immediately after the report was published, demands were again made for the resignations of members of both parties – including by the majority leader of Democrats in the US Senate, Chuck Schumer. “The people of New York deserve better leadership,” Schumer said along with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Both represent New York State in the United States Senate. The investigation against Cuomo was “thorough and professional” and had proved the allegations. “No politician is above the law”.
“The governor’s behavior as described in this report would mean that he is unable to perform his duties,” said Carl Heastie, Democratic Majority Leader of the New York House of Representatives, who launched impeachment proceedings against Cuomo could start. The report now needs to be carefully studied, then people would like to comment on it again.
The allegations of harassment of several women against Cuomo became public earlier this year. The 63-year-old apologized for possible “misinterpretations” of his behavior, but dismissed all accusations and adamantly refused to resign several times. Members of their own Democratic Party had also asked for it. 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.
From the carrier of hope to the problem case
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.