‘Hey You’: Cuomo Report Details Inappropriate Touching, Comments
(Bloomberg) -- Governor Andrew Cuomo’s image as New York’s tough but comforting father figure may be shattered forever after the state attorney general revealed the disturbing findings of a probe into his alleged sexual misconduct.
From unwanted groping to creepy comments, the report issued by Attorney General Letitia James found multiple violations of federal and state law by the governor. Cuomo vehemently denied the allegations in a press conference Tuesday that included a slide show with photographs of him kissing several people, including his parents -- a gesture he says was “meant to convey warmth.”
Cuomo has said the entire probe was biased and accused investigators of political motives. In a statement Tuesday, the governor said the allegations reflect at most a series of generational and cultural misunderstandings, and that he’d learned from the scandal. But he also said many of the claims were simply untrue.
The report, based on 74,000 pieces of evidence and interviews with 179 people, listed multiple interactions that were not just “old fashioned, affectionate behavior,” according to one investigator. Among the allegations:
- At the governor’s mansion in Albany, Cuomo reached under the blouse of his executive assistant and grabbed her breast.
- He also asked that assistant whether she had ever kissed or “fooled around” with anyone other than her husband, and at one point said something to the effect of, “If you were single, the things I would do to you.”
- The governor also frequently hugged and kissed her on the cheek, and at least once turned his head and kissed her on the lips.
- After meeting a female state trooper at an event on the Triborough bridge, Cuomo sought to place her on his security detail, despite her not meeting the minimum service experience required for that job. He e-mailed the job posting to her that listed a reduced service requirement, saying “they changed the minimum from 3 years to 2. Just for you.”
- Once that trooper joined his detail, he sexually harassed her on multiple occasions. He ran his hand from her belly button to her right hip while she held the door open for him, and ran his finger down her back while saying “hey you” when she was standing in front of him in an elevator.
- He told the trooper, who was in her 20s, that she was “too old” for him, and then asked her what age difference between him a romantic partner would be acceptable. She replied, “Probably older than your daughters.”
- Cuomo’s aide, Charlotte Bennett, testified that early into the pandemic, when she and the governor were both wearing face masks, he told her that the face covering made her look like an alien from the movie Predator. She said the governor then commented, “If I were investigated for sexual harassment, I would have to say I told her she looked like a monster,” and laughed.
- In a discussion over Bennett’s interest in getting a tattoo, Cuomo told her to get the tattoo on her backside rather than her shoulder, so that people would not see it if she were wearing a dress. He also asked her about her piercings, and whether she had any other than on her ears. She said the conversation was “painfully awkward.”
- Cuomo also allegedly asked Bennett about the last time she was able to hug someone, given the requirements of social distancing, and complained to her that he hadn’t been able to hug anyone “in a long time.” When she suggested he hug his daughters, he said, “No, no, not like that -- like a real hug.”
- He told a Department of Health employee who was giving him a Covid-19 nasal swab at a press conference, “Nice to see you, Doctor -- you make that gown look good.”
- While meeting attendees at a 2017 conservation event, Cuomo ran two fingers across the chest of an energy company employee while reading out the words written on her shirt. He then leaned in, with his face close to the woman’s cheek, and said, “I’m going to say I see a spider on your shoulder” and then brushed his hand “in the area between her shoulder and breasts.” The woman told investigators she was shocked.
- Cuomo’s brother, CNN’s Chris Cuomo, counseled the governor “to express contrition after the press published Ms. Bennett’s allegations,” according to the report. During his testimony, Chris Cuomo told investigators that there had been “discussion about remedial measures” that the governor’s office should take when the allegations came to light, but that “some people had taken the position that ‘they should just wait.’”
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.