After months of publicized allegations, the New York State attorney general’s office has released a report confirming that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed several women and retaliated against one for going public.
The bombshell 165-page report found that Cuomo “sexually harassed a number of current and former New York State employees by, among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.” The report includes countless anecdotes documenting Cuomo engaging in overly intimate hugs, kisses, gropes, and commentary that is best left between two consenting adults.
In February, Lindsay Boylan, a former official in the Cuomo administration, became the first woman to go public with her claims against Cuomo and his years long history of sexually harassing her. Cuomo’s former executive assistant, Charlotte Bennett, came forward shortly after, accusing Cuomo of making sexual innuendos toward her and sending her sexually charged texts.
The report’s findings on Bennett were lengthy, but here’s their summation, emphasis ours:
In a series of conversations in 2020 with an aide, Charlotte Bennett, the Governor made inappropriate comments, including, among many other things: (1) telling Ms. Bennett, in talking about potential girlfriends for him, that he would be willing to date someone who was as young as 22 years old (he knew Ms. Bennett was 25 at the time); (2) asking her whether she had been with older men; (3) saying to her during the pandemic that he was “lonely” and “wanted to be touched”;10 (4) asking whether Ms. Bennett was monogamous; (5) telling Ms. Bennett, after she told him that she was considering getting a tattoo for her birthday, that if she decided to get a tattoo, she should get it on her butt, where it could not be seen; (6) asking whether she had any piercings other than her ears; and (7) saying that he wanted to ride his motorcycle into the mountains with a woman. These comments by the Governor—as evidenced contemporaneously in numerous text exchanges Ms. Bennett had with others—followed and coincided with discussions she previously had with the Governor about her having been a survivor of sexual assault and made her extremely uncomfortable. They made her so uncomfortable that, following a series of exchanges with the Governor in June 2020, Ms. Bennett reported the interactions to the Governor’s Chief of Staff. While the Executive Chamber moved Ms. Bennett to a different position where she would not need to interact with the Governor in response to Ms. Bennett’s allegations, the Executive Chamber did not report the allegations at the time to the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (“GOER”), the State agency tasked with conducting harassment investigations for State agencies, and did not otherwise conduct any formal investigation. Instead, the Executive Chamber’s senior staff sought to implement a practice whereby individual staff members who were women were not to be left alone with the Governor.
The state attorney general’s report includes several incidents that were not widely reported, including this cretinous anecdote: Cuomo couldn’t even keep his thoughts to himself upon receiving the covid-19 nasal swab test in 2020. He hit on the doctor who performed the exam, repeatedly.
From the report, emphasis ours:
State Entity Employee #2. On March 17, 2020, a then-Director at New York State’s Department of Health (“State Entity Employee #2”), who is also a doctor, participated in a press conference with the Governor, during which she performed a live COVID19 nasal swab test on the Governor. As they were preparing for the press conference (outside the presence of the press), the Governor requested that State Entity Employee #2 not put the swab up his nose “so deep that you hit my brain.”27 State Entity Employee #2 replied that she would be “gentle but accurate”28 in conducting the swab test, to which the Governor responded, “[G]entle but accurate, I’ve heard that before.”29 State Entity Employee #2 felt that the Governor intended to convey a “joke of an implied sexual nature.”30 Then, at the press conference, in front of the press and cameras, the Governor stated, “Nice to see you, Doctor—you make that gown look good.”31 State Entity Employee #2 found the Governor’s comments offensive and that they would not have been made to an accomplished physician who was a man.
The New York Times notes the report’s findings “could fuel support for impeachment proceedings against Mr. Cuomo in the State Legislature.” Given Cuomo’s Trumpian approach to allegations of misconduct—sexual or otherwise—it’s clear that Cuomo will only vacate his post by force. Even as the accusations against him piled up, he adamantly refused to resign, so it’s difficult to imagine anything changing, regardless of the lengthy AG report. Let’s see what Cuomo will distract New Yorkers with this time.
Update: 1:11 p.m. And here we have a recording of Cuomo singing “Do You Love Me” by The Contours during a phone call with Bennett.
Update: 1:24 p.m. In a new statement, Governor Cuomo continues to deny any wrongdoing. He also claims Bennett is a sexual assault survivor who trusted him with her story and that she and her lawyers are have made “inferences” from his comments that weren’t there. Cuomo is also suggesting that his physical contact is cultural (in other words, he’s Italian). Unfortunately, he’s still talking.
Update 1:28 p.m. Cuomo says “politics and bias are interwoven” in the allegations against him.
Update 2:43 p.m. Cuomo has released an 85-page letter rebutting the sexual harassment accusations against him. Apparently, the head of anti-sexual harassment organization Time’s Up thought it was a great idea (it wasn’t).