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DOJ says Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed 13 women

ALBANY, New York — Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed 13 women who worked for the state over the course of an eight-year period, the Department of Justice announced Friday as part of a civil rights settlement with his successor.

The agreement concluded the governor’s office under Cuomo violated federal Title VII rules against discrimination and retaliation between 2013 and 2021.

Cuomo and his staff engaged in “a pattern or practice of discrimination against female employees based on sex” and found they retaliated against the women, Justice Department officials found.

The justice department found Cuomo “repeatedly subjected” women in his office to non-consensual sexual contact, ogling and gender-based nicknames. Top Cuomo staff “were aware of the conduct and retaliated against four of the women he harassed,” the DOJ concluded.

“The conduct in the Executive Chamber under the former governor, the state’s most powerful elected official, was especially egregious because of the stark power differential involved and the victims’ lack of avenues to report and redress harassment,” Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general in the agency’s civil rights division, said in a statement.

Federal officials Friday also announced they reached a settlement with Cuomo’s successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul, to expand her office’s human resources department, create new policies and procedures for reporting and develop “robust training” for anti-retaliation programs.

Hochul had implemented a series of reforms in the wake of Cuomo’s resignation, which occurred in August 2021 after a separate report from the state Attorney General Tish James found he had sexually harassed 11 women, including two who were not state employees.

Hochul highlighted the work since replacing Cuomo, a Democrat who won three terms as governor.

“The moment I took office, I knew I needed to root out the culture of harassment that had previously plagued the Executive Chamber and implement strong policies to promote a safe workplace for all employees, and took immediate action to do so,” Hochul said in a statement.

“I am pleased that the U.S. Department of Justice has acknowledged the significance of those efforts, and look forward to partnering with them as we continue to build upon that success.”

Cuomo has denied wrongdoing. District attorneys have declined to bring charges against the former governor, including the allegation Cuomo groped a former aide at the governor’s mansion. Cuomo has also accused James’ investigation of inflating the number of women who accused him of wrongdoing.

Unlike James’ report, the DOJ did not release details of the allegations against Cuomo. It is unclear how much federal investigators relied on James’ report to reach their conclusions.

While the Justice Department determined harassment took place, the legal agreement signed to settle the matter says it “shall not constitute an adjudication or finding on the merits of the case.”

Cuomo attorney Rita Glavin in a statement insisted Cuomo was not guilty of sexual harassment.

“The DOJ ‘investigation’ was based entirely on the NYS Attorney General’s deeply flawed, inaccurate, biased and misleading report,” she said. “At no point did DOJ even contact Governor Cuomo concerning these matters. This is nothing more than a political settlement with no investigation.”

Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi in a statement also knocked the initial investigation by James’ office, blamed “Chuck Schumer’s handpicked U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District” and called the agreement “not worth the paper it’s printed on.”

In a statement, James’ office said the DOJ report confirmed her office’s findings: “Andrew Cuomo can continue to deny the truth and attack these women, but the facts do not lie.”

Cuomo has been mired in a series of lawsuits since leaving office, with his legal fees in part being paid by New York taxpayers. A former member of his State Police security detail has sued him for discrimination and harassment.

Cuomo has seized on the lawsuit to force depositions from the women in James’ report in order to find inconsistencies in their stories and what the attorney general’s investigation determined. Cuomo’s lawyers have insisted the move is a necessary one in order to adequately defend him.

Attorneys for his accusers have blasted the tactic, however, arguing he is attempting to “retraumatize” them.

Lindsey Boylan, the first alleged victim to come forward publicly about Cuomo, wrote on X, formerly Twitter, about the new report: “These things happened. These things happened to me and other women. And then a huge bureaucracy tried to bury us for telling the truth. Never again will I ever let anyone or any system harm me and other women that way.”

Cuomo, in an interview with POLITICO last year, decried the circumstances that led to his resignation after a decade in office.

“This was spontaneous combustion,” he said.

Cuomo has not ruled out another run for elected office. He has weighed a run for New York City mayor, but only if incumbent Democrat Eric Adams was not in the race.

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Author: POLITICO