The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the state of New York have reached a settlement regarding the sexual harassment investigation on former Governor Andrew Cuomo, which found that the Cuomo administration created a sexually hostile work environment towards women.
Under the settlement, DOJ states that the Executive Chamber under the former governor also not only tolerated that environment and failed to correct the problem, but also retaliated against employees who spoke out about the harassment.
“Executive Chamber employees deserve to work without fear of sexual harassment and harsh reprisal when they oppose that harassment,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The conduct in the Executive Chamber under the former governor, the state’s most powerful elected official, was especially egregious because of the stark power differential involved and the victims’ lack of avenues to report and redress harassment. With this settlement agreement, the Executive Chamber under Governor Hochul is undertaking additional actions that will address system failures of the past while helping prevent the recurrence of systemic sexual harassment and retaliation in the future.”
On Feb. 28, 2021, Attorney General Letitia James first launched the investigation into Cuomo after former members of his staff came forward accusing the past governor of sexual harassment. James revealed the results of the investigation on Aug. 3, 2021, which reported that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women. Cuomo then resigned from office on Aug. 10, 2021, with several of his staffers stepping down as well.
The DOJ’s investigation also found a pattern of sexual misconduct by Cuomo, stating that at least 13 state employees were subjected to his actions, creating a sexually hostile work environment.
“We appreciate the Governor’s stated determination to make sure that sexual harassment does not recur at the highest level of New York State government,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York. “We share that goal and enter into this agreement to advance our common goal of creating clear, comprehensive and, most importantly, enduring policies preventing sexual harassment in the Executive Chamber.”
The former governor’s attorney Rita Galvin said in a statement, “Governor Cuomo did not sexually harass anyone. The DOJ ‘investigation’ was based entirely on the NYS Attorney General’s deeply flawed, inaccurate, biased, and misleading report. At no point did DOJ even contact Governor Cuomo concerning these matters. This is nothing more than a political settlement with no investigation.”
On X, the social platform formerly known as Twitter, Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi said, “Let’s be clear what this is: another fact less rubber stamping of the AG’s discredited report by Joon Kim’s former law partner no less! Can’t make this up.”
Let’s be clear what this is: another fact less rubber stamping of the AG’s discredited report by Joon Kim’s former law partner no less! Can’t make this up. Our responses are below. pic.twitter.com/5T2CJWkA6p
— Rich Azzopardi (@RichAzzopardi) January 26, 2024