According to an independent investigation, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, subjecting them to unwanted kissing and groping.
Announcing the results of the inquiry, New York Attorney General Letitia James said Andrew Cuomo had violated state and federal laws.
Governor Cuomo is yet to respond to the investigation but has previously denied wrongdoing.
The report is likely to play a major part in a separate impeachment inquiry.
The investigation was commissioned in 2020 after several women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the governor.
Investigators spent five months speaking to nearly 200 people, including staff members and some of those who made complaints against him. Tens of thousands of documents, texts and pictures were reviewed as part of the inquiry.
“The independent investigation has concluded that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and in doing so violated federal and state law,” Letitia James said.
Andrew Cuomo, the attorney said, had engaged in “unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments”.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing a second claim of harassment coming from his former aide Charlotte Bennett.
Charlotte Bennett, a health policy adviser to Governor Cuomo until November, told the New York Times that he had harassed her last year.
Andrew Cuomo, 63, has denied any inappropriate behavior and ordered an independent inquiry into the allegations.
Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, has previously accused the governor of harassing her.
The 63-year-old, who has been governor for more than a decade, has found himself under pressure on several fronts in recent weeks.
Andrew Cuomo is under scrutiny from the Democratic Party – of which he is a member – for allegedly hiding the true number of Covid-related deaths in New York care homes.
He has also faced allegations of bullying, including from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Charlotte Bennett, 25, told the New York Times that Andrew Cuomo had asked her numerous questions about her personal life including whether she believed that age made a difference in romantic relationships.
She said he had also suggested that the governor was open to relationships with women in their 20s. Charlotte Bennett said she believed the comments were clear overtures to a sexual relationship.
In the interview, she said that in June last year Governor Cuomo had talked about feeling lonely during the pandemic and had asked her whom she had last hugged.
She said she dodged the question by saying she missed hugging her parents, but she believed the conversation had been another overture.
Charlotte Bennett said: “I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared and was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
She said she informed Governor Cuomo’s chief of staff, Jill DesRosiers, after the interaction and less than a week later was transferred to another job.
She said she had decided not to seek a formal investigation because she “wanted to move on”. No action was taken against Andrew Cuomo.
In a statement released on February 27, Governor Cuomo said he believed he had been acting as a mentor to Charlotte Bennett.
He said he had “never made advances toward Ms Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate”.
He said: “The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported.”
Governor Cuomo said he had authorized an external review of the matter.
“I ask all New Yorkers to await the findings of the review so that they know the facts before making any judgements,” he said.
Earlier this month, Lindsey Boylan published an essay detailing her claims of harassment.
She accused Governor Cuomo of kissing her on the lips and asking her to play strip poker while on his private jet.
She also claimed that he touched her without consent and frequently made inappropriate comments to her and other women about their appearances.
Andrew Cuomo had denied the accusations when they emerged late last year and reiterated those denials after the essay was published.
New York was one of the states worst hit by the pandemic and the governor won widespread praise for his response.
However, in January a report about New York’s response to Covid-19 in care homes – and the handling of related data – said it appeared a complete tally had not been provided to state lawmakers.
More than 15,000 New Yorkers in care homes have died since the start of the pandemic – believed to be the highest of any state in the US.
But until January, New York’s health department had logged just over 8,500 fatalities.
Andrew Cuomo acknowledged “a delay” in the reporting of some nursing home deaths but said the overall Covid-19 death count had always been accurate.
However, in a private conversation leaked to the New York Post, a top aide to Governor Cuomo confessed to covering up the real numbers and withholding the information out of concern the data “was going to be used against us”.
Andrew Cuomo has also faced accusations of bullying.
After Democratic New York Assemblyman Ron Kim criticized Andrew Cuomo over the nursing home issue, Governor Cuomo allegedly rang him and threatened his career.
Ron Kim accused his fellow Democrat of “verbal abuse” as other officials rushed to his defense.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the account “classic Andrew Cuomo,” adding that “the bullying is nothing new”.
Andrew Cuomo became one of the nation’s most influential Democrats during the early days of the pandemic.
The governor’s briefings, TV live, sometimes received more attention than appearances by the then-presidential Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Governor Cuomo criticized President Trump at his daily press briefing, telling reporters that this was the governors’ prerogative, not the president’s. Andrew Cuomo would “not engage” in a fight with President Trump, he claimed, but added he would have “no choice” if the president the threatened the welfare of New Yorkers.
President Trump drew rebuke after claiming on April 13 that he had the ultimate authority to lift lockdown orders, contradicting governors and legal experts.
On April 14, the president took the row to Twitter criticizing Andrew Cuomo and issuing an oblique snipe at other governors.
President Trump tweeted: “Tell the Democrat Governors that ‘Mutiny On The Bounty’ was one of my all time favorite movies.
“A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain.”
The movie tells the story of a ship’s revolt in which mutineers meet with unhappy ends, with President Trump appearing to compare himself to the captain.
He aimed particular fire at Andrew Cuomo, who he said was calling “daily, even hourly, begging for everything,” like hospitals, beds, ventilators for his state. New York remains the US state hardest-hit by the coronavirus outbreak, reporting 778 deaths in the past 24 hours.
Andrew Cuomo told CNN on April 14: “I put my hand out in total partnership and cooperation with the president.”
The comments follow President Trump’s assertion on April 13 that “the president of the United States calls the shots,” during a combative press conference in which he feuded with reporters.
However, the US Constitution says the states maintain public order and safety.
The Trump administration has signaled May 1st as a potential date for easing the restrictions.
The current White House recommendations for Americans to avoid restaurants and non-essential travel and keep in-person gatherings to no more than 10 people expire on April 30.
Andrew Cuomo described President Trump’s position as a “shift” for the president, who had left the shuttering of states to governors.
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