Cuomo Refuses to Resign After Sexual Harassment Findings
All eyes are on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Tuesday after an investigation conducted by the state’s attorney general’s office found he sexually harassed multiple women and created a “toxic” workplace culture. The immediate question was would happen next.
Cuomo answered swiftly with a full-throated rebuttal, saying the report findings are untrue and his attorney has countered each allegation in a posted document. He went on to discuss how one of his accusers was a victim of sexual assault, saying his unwanted attention was somehow an attempt to support her.
In a long and damning press conference, investigation attorneys detailed the salacious report findings contradicting Cuomo’s assertion that the 11 women who made complaints had simply “misinterpreted” what was “unwanted flirtation.” The governor repeatedly said he did not touch any of the women inappropriately; the report says otherwise.
According to the report, the claims of all 11 women were found credible and corroborated to varying degrees, including allegations that Cuomo grabbed butts, breasts, kissed cheeks, ran his finger down necks and backs, asked females about cheating and made several other sexually suggestive comments.
The accusers include former and current staff, state employees and a State trooper.
New York Attorney General Leticia James said the nearly five-month investigation drew on interviews with 179 people conducted by two outside attorneys. James said:
“These interviews and pieces of evidence revealed a deeply disturbing yet clear picture: Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees in violation of federal and state laws.”
She went on, however, to say that her office involvement concluded with the investigation and without referrals for criminal prosecution. James deferred to legislators and independent prosecutors to follow through on the report findings as they see fit, saying her office will “allow the chips to fall where they may.”
Cuomo made it clear that he does not intend to resign, but it is hard to see how he survives his term as governor under such scrutiny. A 2013 tweet is coming back to haunt the governor Tuesday.
There should be a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment & must send a clear message that this behavior is not tolerated.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 17, 2013
Pressure from state and national legislators who have already called on Cuomo to step down will inevitably intensify with the release of the investigation report.
Cuomo said in his taped response:
“That’s not who I am.”
In a litany of defensive lines, he attributed his gestures and kissing to behavior learned from his parents, claimed the investigation is biased, basically called the allegations illegitimate and said he welcomes an opportunity to take up the issue in a court of law.
He may be faced with an impeachment before that happens.