New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul chided Andrew Cuomo after the state’s top prosecutor released a report on Tuesday saying the Democratic governor sexually harassed close to a dozen women and produced a hostile work environment characterized by intimidation tactics.
Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, released the findings following an investigation and said Cuomo repeatedly engaged “in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching” after which he and members of his office engaged in “retaliatory” behavior by “intend[ing] to discredit and disparage” some women who sought to report their experiences. Hochul stopped short of demanding Cuomo resign due to her role as a successor if he were to step down.
“Sexual harassment is unacceptable in any workplace, and certainly not in public service,” the lieutenant governor wrote in a tweet. “The AG’s investigation has documented repulsive & unlawful behavior by the Governor towards multiple women. I believe these brave women & admire their courage coming forward.”
“No one is above the law,” she added. “Under the New York Constitution, the Assembly will now determine the next steps. Because Lieutenant Governors stand next in the line of succession, it would not be appropriate to comment further on the process at this moment.”
James said accusations against Cuomo by 11 women were credible after numerous former aides and staffers claimed over the last few months that the governor engaged in inappropriate behavior throughout his time in his current role and as New York’s attorney general. James will not pursue a criminal case against Cuomo, though she noted that the option to seek charges will be left to local law enforcement.
Cuomo remained defiant in a recorded statement hours after the report became public.
“The facts are much different than what has been portrayed,” Cuomo said. “I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. That is just not who I am, and that’s just not who I’ve ever been.”
Fellow Democrats did not accept his story.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer drafted a joint statement with fellow New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday, renewing their calls for Cuomo’s resignation.
“Today’s report from the New York state attorney general substantiated and corroborated the allegations of the brave women who came forward to share their stories — and we commend the women for doing so,” Schumer and Gillibrand said in a joint statement.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the conduct outlined by James “very troubling” and “unacceptable.”
“I’ve been very clear about the fact that what we’ve seen is disqualifying. I’ll look at this report and have more to say, but [it’s] very, very troubling and painful to hear that accounting of a powerful person treating people that way,” the New York mayor added.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, was one of the first to release a statement, requesting President Joe Biden call for Cuomo to step down as governor.
“No one is above the law and today justice must be served. Governor Cuomo must resign and be arrested immediately,” Stefanik wrote.
On Tuesday, Cuomo publicly apologized to Charlotte Bennett, a former executive assistant to the governor and one of the 11 women who came forward to allege abuses, though she too called for him to step down and later requested the state Legislature impeach him.
“We have the facts,” she wrote in a tweet. “@NYGovCuomo broke federal & state law when he sexually harassed me & other current & former staff. I do not want an apology — I want accountability and an end to victim-blaming. NYS Assembly Speaker @CarlHeastie, it’s time you do the right thing: impeach him.”