Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned from office in August after facing allegations that he sexually harassed or behaved inappropriately toward numerous women, including several former staffers and some who still served in his administration until he stepped down. The accusations ranged from groping under a woman’s shirt and planting unwanted kisses to asking unwelcome personal questions about sex and dating.
The former governor said he “never touched anyone inappropriately” and “never made any inappropriate advances” and that “no one ever told me at the time that I made them feel uncomfortable.” He has called some allegations false.
Cuomo — who in 2018 signed a requirement for all employers statewide to conduct anti-sexual-harassment training every year — said he never meant for what he described as teasing, jokes and “ banter ” to offend anyone but that he apologizes for it. The 63-year-old has also suggested that he was simply being an old-school politician in greeting people with hugs and kisses but that “sensitivities” and behavior have changed.
State Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, appointed a former federal prosecutor and an employment lawyer to investigate the allegations. At the time the attorney general's investigation was launched, Cuomo urged the public to reserve judgment while the inquiry unfolds, saying “the facts will come out.”
On Tuesday, Aug. 3, the attorney general's report, which was made available to the public for the first time, found that the harassment claimed by a number of the governor's accusers is in violation of state and federal law. Cuomo and the rest of his administration slammed the report as biased.
The 165-page report on the investigation exposed some of the inner-workings of the governor's office which started with his harassment of multiple women, an effort in at least one instance to retaliate against one of those women, and detailed in part what is described as a toxic work environment in and around the governor's chambers.
Allegations of sexual harassment by the governor were made public in February by former Cuomo aides Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennette, weeks after Attorney General James released a scathing report saying the state may have undercounted COVID-related nursing home deaths by thousands.
The compounding claims of wrongdoing were met with intense public pressure for an independent probe into the former governor, who eventually granted the power to James after initially selecting a judge who had distant ties to Cuomo. He has repeatedly denied allegations of wrongdoing, but ultimately announced he would resign from office on Aug. 24.
Here’s a look at his accusers’ allegations, in chronological order of being made public:
LINDSAY BOYLAN, 36, a former state economic development official and Cuomo adviser, says the governor kissed her on the lips as she was leaving a one-on-one meeting in his office and suggested playing strip poker while she and others were on a plane with him. Cuomo says both stories are false. Among her other allegations: that Cuomo summoned her alone to his office after a holiday party and made what she took to be a reference to former President Bill Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The governor also sent Valentine’s Day roses to Boylan and other female staffers, she said.
CHARLOTTE BENNETT, 25, a former Cuomo aide, said the governor asked her about her love life — including whether she ever had sex with older men — and talked about his own, saying that age differences didn’t matter in relationships and he was open to dating women over 22. During a meeting alone in his office, Cuomo said he was lonely and talked about wanting to hug someone, Bennett said. She said she swiftly complained to the administration's chief of staff and was transferred to another job. She said she spoke to a lawyer for Cuomo, but didn’t insist on further action because she liked her new post and wanted to move on.
ANNA RUCH, a guest at a wedding where Cuomo officiated, told The New York Times that right after meeting her, he put his hand on her lower back, called her “aggressive” for removing it, placed his hands on her cheeks and asked to kiss her. She said she turned away.
ANA LISS, 35, a former aide, said Cuomo asked her whether she had a boyfriend, once kissed her hand at her desk and greeted her at a reception where she was working with “Hey, sweetheart,” a hug and a kiss on both cheeks. The governor then put his arm around her lower back and waist as they posed for photo, Liss said. She said she eventually asked for a job transfer. In an interview, Liss said she was “not claiming sexual harassment per se,” but felt the administration “wasn’t a safe space for young women to work.”
KAREN HINTON, who worked for Cuomo when he was Clinton’s federal housing secretary in the 1990s, said Cuomo gave her an overly long and intimate hug after calling her to his hotel room for a conversation that turned to personal topics on a trip where she was serving as a consultant to the housing agency. Cuomo said Hinton’s account was “not true.”
BRITTANY COMMISSO, a member of Cuomo's staff, alleged that he closed a door, reached under her blouse and fondled her after summoning her to the governor’s mansion in Albany for help with his cellphone, according to the Times Union of Albany. The newspaper didn’t name Commisso, who said that she told Cuomo to stop groping her and that he had touched and flirted with her previously, but she later publicly identified herself in interviews.
She was identified in Attorney General Letitia James' report as Executive Assistant #1, and her account later mirrored what was in the Albany County Sheriff's report that led to Cuomo facing misdemeanor forcible touching charges.
In the incident, she claims the governor forcibly put his hand under her blouse and groped her while on the second floor of the Executive Mansion during the afternoon of Dec. 7, 2020, according to a criminal complaint filed in Albany County the following October. Commisso initially said the incident occurred in Nov. 2020, but the criminal complaint alleged that it happened the month following.
The governor got up from his desk, started groping her and told her “I don’t care” after she tried to deflect him by saying he was going to get them into trouble, and then he slammed the door, she said.
Commisso spoke on the condition of anonymity at the time in order to protect her privacy, although her identity was reportedly known within the governor’s circle. She said the governor gave her kisses on the cheek and inappropriately tight hugs for years and made remarks including, “If you were single, the things that I would do to you” and “I’m single and ready to mingle.”
The Times Union’s reporting is based on an unidentified source with direct knowledge of the woman’s accusation. The woman recently told a supervisor, and at least one of her bosses reported the allegation to a lawyer for the governor in recent days, according to the newspaper. Cuomo called the report “gut-wrenching” in a statement and said: “I have never done anything like this.”
VALERIE BAUMAN, a former AP reporter, says Cuomo flirted with her when he was attorney general and she covered his office. "To be clear, Andrew Cuomo never touched me inappropriately or said anything that I felt I could report to my boss. He did make me uncomfortable, as did a lot of men in Albany," Valerie Bauman tweeted.
ALYSSA McGRATH, 33, a current administrative assistant in Cuomo’s office, told The New York Times that he looked down her shirt, quizzed her about her marital status, and told her she was beautiful, using an Italian phrase she had to ask her parents to interpret.
McGrath didn’t say the governor made sexual contact with her but thought his behavior was sexual harassment. She recalled Cuomo kissing her on the forehead and gripping her firmly around the sides while posing for a photo at a 2019 office Christmas party.
Cuomo lawyer Rita Glavin responded by reiterating his denials of inappropriate advances and touching. She told the Times he has greeted both men and women with hugs and kisses on the cheek, has put his arm around people for photos and uses such Italian phrases as “ciao bella” (“hi, beautiful” or “’bye, beautiful”), though she said he didn’t say that to McGrath.
“None of this is remarkable, although it may be old-fashioned,” Glavin added.
SHERRY VILL, 55, said she felt manhandled when Cuomo grabbed her face and kissed her cheeks while visiting her Rochester-area home in spring 2017. He was there to inspect the aftermath of flooding near Lake Ontario.
The governor planted kisses on both her cheeks in front of her family members, told her she was beautiful, and then held her hand, grabbed her face and kissed her on the cheek again outside her home, she said. Vill said she found Cuomo’s behavior flirtatious and inappropriate, his body language made her uncomfortable and the episode embarrassed her in front of her family and neighbors.
Similar to previous claims, Cuomo lawyer Rita Glavin said the governor “has frequently sought to comfort New Yorkers with hugs and kisses” during crises and has greeted both men and women that way for decades.
“Nothing described at today’s press conference was unique in that regard,” Glavin said in a statement.