Andrew Cuomo Denies Sexually Harassing Women, Breaking Law
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After Report Finds He Sexually Harassed Women and Broke the Law, Gov. Cuomo Claims He ‘Never’ Made ‘Inappropriate Sexual Advances’

Andrew Cuomo

Buckling down in defiance after an attorney general report depicted him as a serial sexual harasser and state and federal lawbreaker, New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo lashed out at his investigators and the press on Tuesday, expressing contrition only for misunderstandings of his alleged motives and intent.

“I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” Gov. Cuomo claimed, shortly after the release of an explosive, 165-page report finding otherwise from New York’s attorney general.

“I am 63 years old,” Cuomo said. “I have lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am.”

The announcement fell a little more than an hour after New York Attorney General Letitia James, a fellow Democrat, revealed the findings of a monthslong investigation.

Led by former Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim and employment discrimination attorney Anne L. Clark, the investigation interviewed 179 people about complaints from 11 women. James said that her team reviewed some 74,000 pieces of evidence, condensed into a report with 1,371 footnotes.

“Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and in doing so, violated federal and state law,” Attorney General James concluded a little more than hour before the governor’s speech. “Specifically, the investigation found that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York State employees by engaging in unwelcome and non consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive, and sexual nature, that created a hostile work environment for women.”

Denying every claim, Cuomo announced that his lawyer, whom he called a “non-political former federal prosecutor,” responded in a document to be released on his website. Spanning 85 pages, that document unloads against the private investigators, attacking them as “biased”—without appearing to specify their alleged political motivations.

“Regrettably, as the findings in the report show, the investigators have directed an utterly biased investigation and willfully ignored evidence inconsistent with the narrative they have sought to weave from the outset,” Cuomo’s lawyer Rita Glavin wrote in a “position statement”—supplemented with photographs of fellow Democrats hugging and kissing people.

Currently in the private practice, Glavin recently led the prosecution of Steven Donziger, who helped win a $9.5 billion verdict against Chevron.

An environmental crusader to his supporters accused of fraud by his critics, Donziger was recently convicted of contempt of court, in a case that ignited controversy because private lawyers—led by Glavin—prosecuted him after the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to pursue it.

“In coming to their conclusion, they ignored the Governor’s testimony and substantial corroborating evidence, and were not candid about that fact at a press conference during which they announced their findings,” wrote Glavin.

The report does not explain their theory about the alleged bias of the attorney general’s team, indicating Cuomo’s counsel in Albany will explain this position later.

“Counsel for the Executive Chamber will address the fairness of the investigation,” a footnote to the position statement reads.

With one key exception, Cuomo takes issue less with the facts asserted than the context.

“The facts are much different than what has been portrayed,” he said in his televised remarks.

In what the report described as the “most egregious allegations of physical touching,” an ex-aide in the Executive Chamber claimed that the governor “reached under her blouse and grabbed her breast.” The attorney general’s investigators said that the woman reported the alleged incident to the Albany Police Department.

“Let me be clear, that never happened,” Cuomo insisted.

The governor took particular aim at one former aide Charlotte Bennett, who said that Cuomo appeared fixated on her being a survivor of sexual assault. Text messages included in an appendix of the report record her discomfort about her conversation with the governor.

Charlotte Bennett text

“Said ‘you were raped. You were raped and abused. You were raped and abused and assaulted’ maybe 17 times in a row and wouldn’t stop,” Bennett told a fellow staffer in a text message.

“WHAT THE FUCKKKKKK,” the staffer responded.

Cuomo cast the episode as a misunderstanding, portraying it as something that resonated with a story in his family.

“My own family member is a survivor of sexual assault in high school,” Cuomo said. “I have watched her live and suffer with a trauma. I would do anything to make it go away for her to working through these issues with her and therapists and counselors.”

Launching into broadsides against the press, Cuomo also portrayed his scandal as a “trial by newspaper” and questioned the paper of record’s decision to run a story about a young woman who said he made an unwanted advance on her at a wedding.

“The New York Times published the front page picture of me touching a woman’s face at a wedding, and then kissing her on the cheek,” he said. “That is not front page news.”

Read Cuomo’s position statement below:

[Image via NY Gov website screengrab]

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks.