Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed 12 women during his time in office, one more than previously alleged, according to the findings of a highly anticipated report from the New York state Legislature.
In addition to the 11 women contained in Attorney General Letitia James's Aug. 3 report, the separate investigation from the New York Assembly's Judiciary Committee included the allegations of businesswoman Sherry Vill, whose home Cuomo and others visited when touring flood damage in the Rochester area in 2017. Vill said Cuomo's conduct during the visit made her feel "uncomfortable," the committee's Monday report said.
"Ms. Vill said that, as the group was walking out of the house, the then-Governor turned around and told Ms. Vill she was beautiful. ... According to Ms. Vill, when the group returned, the then-Governor approached her, asked if there was anything else she wanted, and then leaned down and kissed her again — also without consent — while grabbing her hand," the committee wrote.
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Vill later received signed photos from the visit, as well as a voicemail from someone in the Executive Chamber inviting her to an event with the governor, both gestures that were not offered to any of her family members or neighbors who met Cuomo during the same visit, according to the committee.
Despite Cuomo "challeng[ing] the allegations of these twelve women in numerous ways," the 63-page document concluded there was "overwhelming evidence of his misconduct," including interviews, emails, text messages, photographs, phone call recordings, and other materials. The report highlighted the allegations of two women, including one whose claims have led to criminal charges against Cuomo, though investigators noted the decision to focus on these two women is "not intend[ed] in any way to diminish the allegations of the other ten women who have come forward or suggest that we do not find them to be credible."
The report also found Cuomo misused state resources in promoting his book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic.
"We have reviewed evidence demonstrating that ... the former Governor utilized the time of multiple state employees, as well as his own, to further his personal gain during a global pandemic — a time during which the former Governor touted the 'around-the-clock' state response to the crisis," the document said, noting Cuomo "profited substantially from the Book" and "tried to downplay the extent of his earnings."
Representatives for the former governor blasted Monday's report, with Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi saying, "Any report that uses the Attorney General's politically biased investigation is going to be equally flawed."
"The Assembly report is hypocritical, revisionist, and damns themselves as the Assembly effectively forces employees to volunteer on their political partisan campaigns as standard practice and if they want to debate it we welcome it," he said. "Let them start by disclosing which staffers also do political work. Will the Judiciary committee members that raised the issue disclose their staff members who volunteer to work on their campaigns and if not why not?"
Last Tuesday, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics voted 12-1 to rescind its 2020 agreement allowing Cuomo to gain an estimated $5.1 million from his book deal, a reversal from two previous votes allowing the authorization of his book deal to stand. The body also signed off on an investigation into its approval of his book deal, an arrangement that raised concerns among ethics watchdogs despite Cuomo's insistence that state resources were not misused in the promotion of the book.
There was confusion surrounding the viability of the Judiciary Committee's investigation into Cuomo, which Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie termed an "impeachment investigation," after the then-governor resigned in August, as Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Lavine and attorneys came to believe the legislative body did not have the constitutional authority to "impeach and remove an elected official who is no longer in office." Still, investigators continued with the query, collecting evidence and releasing their findings even after the former governor vacated office.
Heastie authorized the investigation on March 17, roughly two weeks after James received a referral letter from Cuomo to conduct a separate investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct, which Cuomo repeatedly denied. James's monthslong investigation culminated in the release of a bombshell report on Aug. 3 detailing 11 women's claims, ultimately leading to Cuomo's resignation on Aug. 24.
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The former governor and the state attorney general, once political allies, have been verbally sparring ever since James, who in October declared a gubernatorial run, announced the findings of her report. In September, James slammed Cuomo for not taking "responsibility for his own conduct" after he blasted his ouster as "politics."
Last month, Cuomo was charged with forcible touching regarding an incident that allegedly occurred at the executive mansion, which he maintained "never" happened in recent testimony. The former governor is expected to appear in court on Jan. 7.