State Watch

New York AG receives referral to investigate Cuomo over sexual harassment allegations

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New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said Monday that she has received a referral letter to move forward on an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment made by two former aides of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

James’s announcement comes one day after a series of back-and-forth statements between James and Cuomo’s office about the parameters of how such a referral was to be made, which James determined had to come from the governor’s office, per state law.

Cuomo at first on Sunday suggested that James join the chief judge of New York’s Court of Appeals Janet DiFiore in appointing an independent attorney to investigate the claims against Cuomo, but James said she would not accept such a proposal because she had sole authority over such a probe.

James said Monday her office had received a referral letter from the executive chamber “providing us the authority to move forward with an independent investigation into allegations of sexual harassment claims made against Governor Cuomo.”

“This is not a responsibility we take lightly as allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously,” James said, adding that the findings of the investigation would be disclosed publicly.

Beth Garvey, senior adviser and special counsel to Cuomo, said in the referral letter that all state employees had been directed to cooperate with the investigation. 

Two former aides in recent weeks have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment. One former aide, Lindsey Boylan, has said that Cuomo kissed her without her consent and once suggested that they “play strip poker.” A second former aide, Charlotte Bennett, told The New York Times Cuomo made unwanted advances toward her last spring during the height of the pandemic.

Cuomo issued a public apology on Sunday, saying his interactions with women in the workplace “may have been insensitive or too personal,” but maintained that he has “never inappropriately touched anybody.”

“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended,” the governor said in the statement. “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”

Tags Andrew Cuomo Andrew Cuomo Letitia James Letitia James New York Sexual harassment

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