NEW YORK — After an investigation into New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo found that he sexually harassed multiple current and former state government employees, State Attorney General Letitia James said her role in the case has concluded. What happens next?
The nearly five-month investigation, conducted by two outside lawyers who spoke to 179 people, found that the Cuomo administration was a “hostile work environment” and that it was “rife with fear and intimidation.”
James said her investigation has concluded. There were no referrals to criminal prosecutors, though that wouldn’t preclude local authorities from using the evidence and findings of the report to mount their own cases.
When asked whether or not the investigation will be “wrapped up well” if Cuomo were to resign, James said the decision is up to the governor and the state of New York.
“The report speaks for itself,” James said, “Right now I think we should all be focused on the courageous and the bravery of the women who came forward. And all of us should be focused on keeping women safe, believing women and allowing them to speak their truth, and that’s exactly what this document does.”
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement the findings of the report outlines that the governor is “not fit for office.”
Heastie stopped short of saying he will convene impeachment proceedings, but will have more to say “the very near future.”
Cuomo faced multiple allegations last winter that he inappropriately touched and sexually harassed women who worked with him or who he met at public events. One aide in his office said he groped her breast.
Another, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo kissed her on the lips after a meeting in his office and “would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs.”
After Boylan first made her allegations public in December, the Cuomo administration undercut her story by releasing personnel memos to media outlets revealing that Boylan resigned after she was confronted about complaints she belittled and yelled at her staff.
Boylan has said those records “were leaked to the media in an effort to smear me.”
Other aides have said that the Democratic governor asked them unwelcome personal questions about sex and dating. One former aide, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo asked if she was open to sex with an older man.
Last winter there was a chorus of calls for Cuomo’s resignation from many top elected Democrats in New York, including two U.S. senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. But Cuomo refused to quit and has been raising money for a fourth term in office.
His position on the allegations has also hardened into one of defiance. Cuomo has always denied touching anyone inappropriately, but he initially said he was sorry if his behavior with women was “misinterpreted as unwanted flirtation.” In recent months, he’s taken a more combative tack, saying he did nothing wrong and questioning the motives of accusers and critics.
Associated Press contributed to this report.