NY Attorney General Letitia James on the decision to open an independent investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

March 31, 2021
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“This is not a responsibility we take lightly as allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously.”

LATEST: Today, Gov. Cuomo’s special counsel and senior advisor gave the attorney general the green light (an official referral letter from the governor’s office required by law) to move forward with an independent investigation into allegations of sexual harassment made against the governor.

    • Former aide and current candidate for Manhattan borough president Lindsey Boylan originally spoke out in December via Twitter, saying that Gov. Cuomo “sexually harassed me for years.” In late February, she accused Governor Cuomo of unwanted kissing and touching, and said in a Medium post that he once suggested they play strip poker.
    • On February 27, a second former aide, Charlotte Bennett, told the New York Times that Gov. Cuomo made inappropriate remarks to her in 2020, including questions about her sex life that left her with the impression that he wanted to sleep with her. She said she was transferred to another job shortly after she informed the Governor’s chief of staff of what happened.
    • In a February 28 statement, Gov. Cuomo responded to the allegations explaining that while he ever prepositioned or touched anyone inappropriately, he did tease “people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married” in an “attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.” He said that while he never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, he now understands that his comments “may have been insensitive or too personal” given his position, and that “some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.”
    • On March 1, a third woman (unaffiliated with the Cuomo administration), Anna Ruch, told The New York Times that the Governor made an inappropriate advance toward her at a 2019 wedding by placing his hands on her lower back and cheeks before asking if he could kiss her.
    • *UPDATE* On March 6, two more women spoke out:
      • Ana Liss told the The Wall Street Journal that Gov. Cuomo called her sweetheart, touched her lower back, and kissed her hand when she worked as an aide from 2013 to 2015.
        • Reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures. At the public open-house mansion reception, there are hundreds of people, and he poses for hundreds of pictures. That’s what people in politics do,” a senior advisor said in response to the report.
      • Karen Hinton told The Washington Post about an incident in 2000 (before Cuomo became New York’s Governor in 2011), when she worked as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which was then led by Cuomo. She spoke of a encounter in dimly lit hotel room where Cuomo ask her personal questions and engaged in a “very long, too long, too tight, too intimate” embrace, which she said was a “power play” for “manipulation and control.” Hinton said she plans to say more about it in her forthcoming memoir.
        • In response, Cuomo’s director of communications denied the allegation, saying “Karen Hinton is a known antagonist of the Governor’s who is attempting to take advantage of this moment to score cheap points with made up allegations from 21 years ago. All women have the right to come forward and tell their story — however, it’s also the responsibility of the press to consider self-motivation. This is reckless.”
    • *UPDATE* On March 9, a sixth woman’s accusations were made public.
      • The unidentified aide’s allegations were reported to the Times Union by a source who said that in 2020, the aide was called to Gov. Cuomo’s private residence at the executive mansion in order to help him with an issue involving his phone when he put placed his hand under her blouse and fondled her.
        • In response to latest accusations and calls by a growing wave of the New York Democrats, including Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, the Governor said “I did not do what has been alleged, period… Let the review proceed. I am not going to resign.”
  • WHAT’S NEXT: A private law firm will conduct the investigation. According to the referral letter by Gov. Cuomo’s special counsel and senior advisor, the results of the investigation will be made public once it’s complete.

by Jenna Lee,