The Executive Chamber was “rife with fear and intimidation,” which allowed for harassment to occur and created a hostile work environment, New York Attorney General Letitia James said following a five-month review by independent investigators of sexual harassment claims against the governor.
Cuomo allegedly engaged in unwanted groping, kissing, and hugging, and made inappropriate comments to both state and non-state employees, including a New York State trooper who was assigned to his protective detail, James said the investigation found.
The governor and his senior staff took actions to retaliate against at least one former employee for coming forward with her story, investigators Joon Kim and Anne Clark reported.
The Executive Chamber fostered a “toxic” workplace that enabled “harassment to occur and created a hostile work environment," the AG said.
“The investigators find that Governor Cuomo’s actions and those of the Executive Chamber violated multiple state and federal laws, as well as the Executive Chamber’s own written policies.”
Cuomo repeatedly harassed women, including reaching up one victim’s breast, gazing at their private parts, and talking explicitly about sex in front of employees, which Clark said “humiliated them," the report says.
“One current employee said that she was terrified that if she spoke out she would lose her job,” Clark said. “She broke down in front of colleagues on March 3, 2021, when he claimed he never touched anyone inappropriately, and then she confided in co-workers, who made it known.”
Clark also outlined the claims made by former aide Charlotte Bennett, age 25, who came forward in the spring last year and was attempted to be quieted by the governor’s administration.
“He said he could date women as young as 22, knowing that Bennett was 25 at the time,” Clark said. “He asked about details of her sexual assault … He said he was lonely and wanted to be touched … He asked about monogamy … He asked how her sexual assault affected her romantic life … He said she looked like Daisy Duke … He asked if she had any piercings anywhere other than her ears.”
The investigation also found that Cuomo’s administration was one of fear and intimidation.
Kim said that “words that witnesses have used to describe it include ‘toxic,’ ‘hostile,’ ‘abusive,’ while others used words like ‘fear,’ ‘intimidation,’ ‘bullying,’ and ‘vindictive.’”
In texts among members of the administration, Kim said that one wrote that “Hopefully when this is all done, people will realize the culture even outside the sexual harassment stuff is not something you can get away with. You can’t berate and harass people 24/7.”
James said that “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.”
This is a developing story. Check back with Daily Voice for updates.
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