New York Governor Andrew Cuomo violated federal and state laws by sexually harassing multiple women through actions that included touching their “intimate body parts”, a report has found.
Gov. Cuomo also allegedly retaliated against some of the victims and created a “toxic” and hostile work environment, officials said.
The New York Post reports that the blockbuster announcements came during a news conference at which state Attorney-General Letitia James said an independent probe she commissioned had found that Gov. Cuomo engaged in “unwanted groping, kissing, hugging and making inappropriate comments.”
The probe involved accusations that Gov. Cuomo, 63, sexually harassed several current and former female staffers, most of whom are in their 20s or 30s.
Investigators gathered evidence from 11 women, nine of whom are or were state employees, said former acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon Kim, one of two outside lawyers hired to conduct the probe.
One alleged victim is a state trooper who served on Gov Cuomo’s security detail, Mr Kim said.
The trooper told the investigators that while she was holding a door open for Gov. Cuomo, he passed by and ran his open hand against her stomach, said Anne Clark, the other lawyer who led the investigation.
“She told us she felt completely violated,” Ms Clark said.
The most serious allegation made public to date came from a current aide who says Gov. Cuomo reached under her blouse and groped her inside his Executive Mansion office in Albany last year.
Ms James hired two outside lawyers — former acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon Kim and employment discrimination expert Anne Clark — to conduct the probe and Gov. Cuomo was grilled for about 11 hours in his Manhattan office last month, the New York Times reported on Monday.
At several points, the July 17 session — which was recorded on video — got heated when Gov. Cuomo confronted Mr Kim over his role in previous federal investigations of the governor and his allies, the Times said.
Gov. Cuomo has apologized for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable” but has repeatedly denied having “touched anyone inappropriately” or engaged in other misconduct.