Will Andrew Cuomo be jailed? Letitia James' probe finds NY Guv sexually harassed many women
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has landed in trouble again after an investigation found he sexually harassed many women he worked with. The investigation was ordered by NYC's Attorney General Letitia James who spoke at a press conference on August 3. She summarized the findings of the investigation which began in March after more than five former staff members from Cuomo's office came forward to say he behaved inappropriately with them.
Earlier this year, Cuomo was accused of sexual harassment and several women came forward to talk about it publicly. One of them was Charlotte Bennett, Cuomo's ex-aide who claimed the governor asked her “questions about her sex life, whether she was monogamous in her relationships and if she had ever had sex with older men”. Bennett, 25, resigned from the governor's office in November 2020 and said the harassment had started in spring during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Will Andrew Cuomo be jailed?
Cuomo was questioned by investigators in the state attorney general's office for 11 hours in July as part of an inquiry into the sexual harassment allegations against him, according to NY Times. Authorities grilled Cuomo at his Manhattan office on July 17 where he was questioned under oath about his treatment of women by the AG's lead investigators Joon H Kim and Anne L Clark. At one point Cuomo questioned the fairness of Kim, five people who have been briefed about the investigation told the Times.
“This investigation started at the request of the governor after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment,” said Delaney Kempner, a spokeswoman for the state attorney general. “It is being carried out by independent investigators who have decades of experience. The continued attempts to undermine and politicize this process are dishonest and take away from the courage and bravery displayed by these women," she added. Kim is a top prosecutor in the US attorney's Manhattan office and had also interrogated Cuomo in a federal investigation into the governor's abrupt decision to shut down the Moreland Commission in 2014, an anti-corruption panel.
Cuomo authorized this investigation in March this year, a strategy that helped cool off the calls for him to resign. Attorney General James addressed the findings of this investigation during a news conference on August 2. The 16-page report which is accompanied by three appendixes makes this a 654-page evidence document that reveals Cuomo is guilty.
"Guv Cuomo's administration fostered a toxic workplace that enabled harassment and created a hostile work environment, where staffers did not feel comfortable coming forward with complaints about sexual harassment due to a clime of fear," James said on August 2. Kim and Clark spoke to 179 people during the investigation and found that Cuomo's administration was "rife with fear and intimidation". People who were interviewed include complainants, current, and former members of the executive chamber, state troopers, additional state employees, amongst others.
"These interviews and pieces of evidence revealed a deeply disturbing yet clear picture: Guv Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees, federal and state laws," James said at the press conference. Amongst other things, the report also addressed allegations that Cuomo sexually harassed female member on his security detail. The report said, Cuomo ran his hand or fingers across her stomach and her back, kissed her on the cheek, asked for her help in finding a girlfriend and asked why she didn’t wear a dress.
However, Cuomo cannot be sent to jail based on this report. There were no penalties attached to the investigation, however, the women could press charges against him, James said. "I believe these 11 women," she added during the conference. "Some suffered through unwanted touching, and grabbing of their most intimate body parts. Others suffered through repeated offensive, sexually suggestive, or gender-based comments. A number of them endured both. None of them welcomed it. And all of them found it disturbing, humiliating, uncomfortable and inappropriate," investigator Joon Kim said at the conference.