New York Attorney General Says Gov. Andrew Cuomo Sexually Harassed Employees, 'Violated Federal and State Law'

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Andrew Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo

Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday that an independent investigation into harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo has concluded, with the investigators finding that the governor "sexually harassed multiple women" and, in doing so, "violated federal and state law."

In a press conference, James said the investigation found that Cuomo, 63, engaged in "unwanted groping, kisses, hugging, and making inappropriate comments" with both current and former New York state employees. She added that the actions "created a hostile work environment for women," and said that the governor and his senior staff took actions to retaliate against at least one former employee who came forward with her story.

In remarks to reporters, investigating attorney Joon Kim said the incidents were "not isolated," adding, "They were part of a pattern."

Adding that Cuomo's harassment was not limited to his own staff, Kim said the incidents extended to other employees, "including a state trooper who served as part of his protective detail."

Attorney Anne Clark elaborated on the harassment of the trooper in her remarks to reporters, detailing an incident in which Cuomo, standing behind the officer in an elevator, "ran his finger over [the trooper's] neck, down her spine and said, 'Hey you.' "

In another incident, Clark said Cuomo passed the trooper while she held open a door for him, "took his open hand and ran it across her stomach from her belly button to the hip where she keeps her gun." Clark added that incident was confirmed by another state trooper, who witnessed it.

Investigators said in the press conference that Cuomo denied the allegations as detailed by the trooper, but said he "might have kissed her at an event."

RELATED: Third Woman Accuses Gov. Andrew Cuomo of Sexual Harassment: I 'Didn't Have Words'

The investigation comes after several women publicly accused the Democrat of harassment.

According to the New York attorney general's office, the allegation began in December 2020, and, over the course of the investigation, investigators interviewed 179 individuals.

"Those interviewed included complainants, current and former members of the Executive Chamber, State Troopers, additional state employees, and others who interacted regularly with the governor," the AG's office said in a statement. "More than 74,000 documents, emails, texts, and pictures were also reviewed as evidence during the investigation."

The governor has previously denied having "inappropriately touched anybody" but has apologized for what he said was unintended discomfort.

"I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable," he said in March.

Cuomo added: "It was unintentional, and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it and, frankly, I am embarrassed by it and that's not easy to say. But that's the truth."

According to the AG's office, Cuomo sat with the interviewers and answered questions under oath, but offered "blanket denials" or said that he had a "lack of recollection as to specific incidents."

The investigators found that the governor's recollection of his interactions "stood in stark contrast to the strength, specificity, and corroboration of the complainants' recollections, as well as the reports of many other individuals who offered observations and experiences of the governor's conduct," according to the AG's statement.

In a statement, James said the announcement was "sad," adding that she was grateful to the women who shared their stories of harassment.

"This is a sad day for New York because independent investigators have concluded that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and, in doing so, broke the law," James said in the statement. "I am grateful to all the women who came forward to tell their stories in painstaking detail, enabling investigators to get to the truth. No man — no matter how powerful — can be allowed to harass women or violate our human rights laws, period."

James told reporters that the investigation is civil in nature and does not have criminal consequences. "There are no penalties specifically tied to this report," Clark added.

James continued: "As it relates to next steps, that's entirely up to the governor, the assembly, and the general public."

Shortly after the release of the state AG's report, Albany County district attorney David Soares announced that his office was conducting its own investigation into the matter, the New York Times reported.

Cuomo's office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment but denied the allegations in a recorded message published Tuesday.

"I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances," Cuomo said in the video. "I am 63 years old. I have lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am, and that's not who I have ever been."