The New York Attorney General’s Office is probing whether Governor
Sources told the
Officials are said to be especially interested in the controversial release of the personnel file of his first accuser, Lindsey Boylan, to the media which branded her a bully.
Boylan claims the release was part of a smear campaign to discredit her allegations against the governor after she accused him of kissing her on the lips and suggesting a game of strip poker.
During the early days of the pandemic, Cuomo was lauded for his handling of the crisis in the virus epicenter of the world, with his daily press briefings even earning him an Emmy.
But the governor’s reputation has unraveled in recent months as nine women have now come forward to accuse him of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.
Cuomo has repeatedly denied the allegations saying he ‘never touched anyone inappropriately’ and ‘never made any inappropriate advances’ but has apologized for making anyone feel ‘uncomfortable.’
Meanwhile, he has also been rocked by the COVID-19 nursing home deaths scandal and pointed questions have arisen over the writing of his controversial memoir and the alleged special treatment afforded to his friends and family in the early days of the pandemic.
The New York Attorney General’s Office is probing whether Governor Andrew Cuomo (above) and his aides committed a crime by retaliating against women who accused him of sexual harassment, according to a report
AG Letitia James’ Office has interviewed at least a dozen current and former staff members as part of the sex pest probe, eight people familiar with the matter told the Post.
Several of these witnesses have reportedly been asked what they know about any potentially illegal retaliation – both planned and acted upon – against his alleged victims.
They were specifically asked about calls and meetings in the lead up to the release of Boylan’s personnel file, the sources said.
Insiders said the governor had personally met with advisers to discuss how to handle Boylan’s allegations.
The advisers and aides at the center of the retaliation probe were not named in the report.
Last month CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was forced to apologize on air after he admitted he had secretly advised his brother on the harassment allegations.
Meanwhile, Cuomo’s top aide Melissa DeRosa has been accused by some of Cuomo’s accusers of making ‘intimidating’ phone calls after Boylan’s allegations first surfaced.
She is also said to have been involved in drafting a letter sent to staffers to sign to try to tarnish Boylan’s reputation.
Sources told the Washington Post investigators for New York State Attorney General Letitia James (pictured) are looking into the possibility the governor and his inner circle broke state laws that make it illegal to retaliate against alleged victims of sexual harassment
Officials are said to be especially interested in the controversial release of the personnel file of his first accuser, Lindsey Boylan, to the media which branded her a bully. Boylan in March
Neither Chris Cuomo nor DeRosa have been accused by the AG’s office of any wrongdoing in the sexual harassment probe.
Former aide Boylan, 36, was the first woman to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment in a series of Twitter posts in December.
She worked for Cuomo’s team from March 2015 to October 2018 .
She then elaborated on her accusations in a February 24 Medium blog post in which she said Cuomo once suggested they play a game of strip poker and made unwanted advances toward her.
In one alleged incident in 2017, she said the governor kissed her on the lips without her permission inside his New York City office.
The governor has denied these allegations.
After she came forward with the accusations, the governor’s office released her personnel records which included disciplinary recommendations against her and allegations of bullying.
Boylan has said her personnel material was leaked in an effort to smear her.
The advisers and aides at the center of the retaliation probe were not named. Last month CNN anchor Chris Cuomo (left) admitted he had secretly advised his brother on the harassment allegations. Cuomo’s top aide Melissa DeRosa (right) has been accused by some of Cuomo’s accusers of making ‘intimidating’ phone calls after Boylan’s allegations first surfaced
It then emerged in March that Cuomo’s office also tried to tarnish her reputation by sending an open letter to former staffers to sign – especially women – accusing her of making ‘false claims’ for ‘political gain.’
‘Weaponizing a claim of sexual harassment for personal political gain or to achieve notoriety cannot be tolerated,’ one version of the letter read.
‘False claims demean the veracity of credible claims.’
The letter, which was never released, also tried to tie her to Donald Trump saying her allegations arose after she was ‘supported by lawyers and financial backers of Donald Trump: an active opponent of the governor.’
At least two former officials refused to sign it.
Cuomo’s counsel Beth Garvey said in a statement to the Post that ‘it is within a government entity’s discretion to share redacted employment records, including in instances when members of the media ask for such public information and when it is for the purpose of correcting inaccurate or misleading statements.’
Cuomo is under investigation by the state AG’s office over allegations of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior.
At least nine women have so far come forward with accusations including three former and two current aides in his office.
Emergency Medical Service workers unload a patient into their ambulance at the Cobble Hill Health Center in April. Cuomo’s office is also under investigation for allegedly covering up the state’s nursing home death data
Meanwhile, the sex pest probe is just one in a ballooning number of investigations into the embattled governor.
The governor is being investigated over claims he covered up COVID-19 deaths in the state’s nursing homes after it emerged the numbers released to the public showed only half the number of fatalities.
This week the DOJ subpoenaed communications associated with the writing of his book ‘American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the
A separate inquiry is also underway in relation to the book to determine whether Cuomo unlawfully abused state resources, including staffers, to draft and promote it.
Cuomo’s office has insisted staffers who worked on the book did so voluntarily.
Investigators are also looking into whether Cuomo misused public resources by giving his family preferential COVID-19 testing in the early days of the pandemic when testing was not widespread.
The women who’ve accused Gov Andrew Cuomo of harassment
Lindsay Boylan, 36
Former aide Lindsay Boylan, 36, was the first woman to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment in a Medium post on February 24. She claimed that the governor asked her to play strip poker and kissed her on the lips without her permission when she worked for him in 2017.
Lindsay Boylan, 36
Charlotte Bennett, 25
Charlotte Bennett, 25, came forward a few days after Boylan and claimed that Cuomo sexually harassed her last June while she was working as a health policy adviser in his administration at the height of the COVID-19 crisis.
Bennett accused Cuomo of ‘grooming’ her and asking inappropriate questions about her sex life.
She also claimed that he told her he was open to dating women in their 20s.
BENNETT 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, the governor said he was lonely and talked about wanting to hug someone, Bennett said.
She said she swiftly complained to Cuomo’s chief of staff and was transferred to another job.
She said she spoke to a lawyer for the governor, but didn´t insist on further action because she liked her new post and wanted to move on.
Charlotte Bennett, 25
Anna Ruch, 33
Anna Ruch was the third woman to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment and the only one thus far who did not work with him in a professional capacity. She claimed that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her just moments after they met at a September 2019 wedding in Manhattan.
Anna Ruch, 33
Ana Liss, 35
Ana Liss, 35, a former aide, said Cuomo asked her whether she had a boyfriend, once kissed her hand at her desk and called her by patronizing names, including ‘blondie,’ ‘sweetheart’ and ‘honey.’
At a reception, the governor hugged her 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.’
Liss, who previously served as Cuomo’s policy and operations aide between 2013 and 2015, told the Wall Street Journal that during her time in his administration, the governor had subjected her to unsolicited advances, including touching her lower back, kissing her hand and quizzing her about her love life.
Ana Liss, 35
Karen Hinton, 62
The oldest allegations against Cuomo came from Karen Hinton, who served as a press aide for him when he led the US Department of Housing and Urban Development two decades ago and she was a consultant for the agency. Hinton told the Washington Post about a 2000 incident when she said Cuomo summoned her to his ‘dimly lit’ hotel room and embraced her after a work event. She said she tried to pull away from Cuomo when he pulled her back and held her before she managed to escape the room.
Karen Hinton, 62
Unnamed sixth accuser
The most damning allegations leveled against Cuomo to date came from a sixth accuser, whose name has not been released.
The accuser, who is 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.
It first reported on her accusation last month; she then gave more detail in her first interview on the matter, published Wednesday.
The woman spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect her privacy, although her identity is known within the governor´s circle, the Times Union reported.
The woman, an executive assistant, told the Times Union 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.’
Then, one day in November, she was summoned to his Executive Mansion office to help him with a cellphone problem, she said.
He 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.
Then he reached under her blouse and clutched one of her breasts over her bra, she told the newspaper.
The woman told a colleague this winter about the alleged encounter, and the co-worker told a supervisor in early March, according to the newspaper.
Cuomo called the report ‘gut-wrenching’ in a March statement and said: ‘I have never done anything like this.’
Another female aide, who has remained anonymous, claimed he called her to his Executive Mansion last year, reached under her blouse and fondled her
Jessica Bakeman claimed in a first-person article for New York Magazine that she was sexually harassed by Cuomo on several occasions since the start of her journalism career in 2012.
Bakeman added her voice as the seventh accuser as she detailed inappropriate touching by the governor as he continued to deny all of the claims.
‘He took my hand, as if to shake it, then refused to let go,’ Bakeman wrote of an interaction with Cuomo as she said goodnight at a holiday party in 2014 when she was only 25 years old.
‘He put his other arm around my back, his hand on my waist, and held me firmly in place while indicating to a photographer he wanted us to pose for a picture.’
At the time Bakeman had been working for what is now Politico New York and claimed that red flags went up as her ‘job was to analyze and scrutinize him’.
‘I didn’t want a photo of him with his hands on my body and a smile on my face,’ she wrote.
Jessica Bakeman, a reporter who once covered the Cuomo administration, was the seventh woman to come forward with claims of harassment
‘But I made the reflexive assessment that most women and marginalized people know instinctively, the calculation about risk and power and self-preservation. I knew it would be far easier to smile for the brief moment it takes to snap a picture than to challenge one of the most powerful men in the country.’
In an earlier 2012 incident while she was working for USA Today, Bakeman also claims that Cuomo kept her pinned to his side as he told a story to her male colleagues.
‘He left it there, and kept me pinned next to him, for several minutes as he finished telling his story,’ she said. ‘I stood there, my cheeks hot, giggling nervously as my male colleagues did the same. We all knew it was wrong, but we did nothing.’
The reporter, who now works in Florida, claimed that Cuomo ‘never let me forget I was a woman’ as she also alleged that he made frequent attempts to humiliate her, including calling out her purple phone instead of answering her question during a press gaggle.
Alyssa McGrath, 33
McGrath, 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.
Alyssa McGrath (pictured) is one of two aides who have come forward to accuse the governor of harassment
Sherry Vill, 55
Sherry Vill, 55, accused Cuomo of sexual misconduct during a press conference with her attorney Gloria Allred on Monday.
She alleges Cuomo grabbed her face and kissed her ‘aggressively and in a sexual manner’ on both cheeks in May 2017 while he was touring her home in
Vill, who said she felt uncomfortable at the time, shared an image her daughter took on the day that showed Cuomo holding her face as he kissed her cheek and her attorney held up multiple photos showing the Governor inside her home.
The same photos appear on Cuomo’s Flickr account, as well as multiple others that show him kissing and greeting residents as he toured the town.
None of the women in the other photos have accused the governor of inappropriate behavior or wrongdoing.
Sherry Vill, 55, accused Cuomo of sexual misconduct on Monday. Vill, who said she felt uncomfortable at the time, shared an image her daughter took on the day that showed Cuomo holding her face as he kissed her cheek