Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, including current and former government workers, breaking state and federal laws and engaging in a pattern of unwanted touching and inappropriate comments, according to a much anticipated report from the New York State attorney general, Letitia James, released on Tuesday.
The 165-page report said that Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, and his aides cultivated a toxic work culture in his office that was rife with fear and intimidation, and helped enable “harassment to occur and created a hostile work environment.”
The report included at least two previously unreported allegations of sexual harassment from women who accused Mr. Cuomo of improperly touching them, including an unnamed female state trooper and an employee of an energy company. And it highlighted at least one instance in which Mr. Cuomo and his aides retaliated against one of the women who made her allegations public.
“Governor Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees in violation of both federal and state laws,” Ms. James said. “The independent investigation found that Governor Cuomo harassed multiple women, many of whom were young women, by engaging in unwanted groping, kisses, hugging, and by making inappropriate comments.”
Ms. James said the report revealed “a deeply disturbing, yet clear picture” and “conduct that corrodes the very fabric and character of our state government and shines light on injustice that can be present at the highest levels of government.”
Responding to the report from Albany shortly after, Mr. Cuomo reiterated his contention that he had never touched anyone inappropriately, declaring that “the facts are much different from what has been portrayed.”
“I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” he said in what appeared to be a prerecorded message. “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.”
As he has before, Mr. Cuomo argued that he has a tendency to hug or kiss people on the cheek, gestures he described as “meant to convey warmth, nothing more.”
As he spoke, a slide show was played of photographs showing him hugging and kissing members of the public and powerful leaders. “I do it with everyone,” Mr. Cuomo said, offering the pictures as evidence. “Black and white, young and old, straight and L.G.B.T.Q., powerful people, friends, strangers, people who I meet on the street.”
Mr. Cuomo also defended his office by describing it as a high-pressure, demanding workplace, but not a toxic environment. He said a document refuting each of the women’s claims would be posted on the governor’s website, saying that “trial by newspaper or biased reviews” were not the way to treat the claims.
The findings of the report could fuel support for impeachment proceedings against Mr. Cuomo in the State Legislature, which Democrats overwhelmingly control, lead to additional calls for his resignation and influence public opinion as he considers running for a fourth term. Outside lawyers hired by the Assembly’s judiciary committee are currently looking at not only the sexual harassment claims, but a series of scandals with a common theme: whether or not Mr. Cuomo abused his power while in office.
The investigation was conducted by two outside lawyers hired by Ms. James: Joon H. Kim, a former top federal prosecutor, and Anne L. Clark, a well-known employment lawyer.
On Tuesday, Mr. Kim said their investigation revealed “a pattern” of behavior from Mr. Cuomo and found that the culture within the executive chamber “contributed to conditions that allowed the governor’s sexually harassing conduct to occur and to persist.”
“It was a culture where you could not say no to the governor and if you upset him or his senior staff you would be written off, cast aside or worse,” Mr. Kim said. “But at the same time the witnesses described a culture that normalized and overlooked everyday flirtations, physical intimacy and inappropriate comments by the governor.”
The investigators said 11 women had accused Mr. Cuomo of a range of inappropriate behavior; nine of them are current or former state employees, they said. Investigators said they interviewed 179 witnesses and collected tens of thousands of documents to corroborate the claims.
Ms. Clark said that the governor’s conduct detailed in the report “clearly meets, and far exceeds” the legal standard used to determine gender-based harassment in the workplace.
“Women also described to us having the governor seek them out, stare intently at them, look them up and down or gaze at their chest or butt,” she said. “The governor routinely interacted with women in ways that focused on their gender, sometimes in explicitly sexualized manner in ways that women found deeply humiliating and offensive.”
Even before the report’s release on Tuesday, the damage to Mr. Cuomo has been considerable: In a span of a few weeks earlier this year, the allegations and a series of other scandals compounded into the most severe political crisis Mr. Cuomo has confronted in his 10 years in office, a steep fall for a governor once hailed a national leader during the coronavirus pandemic.
Members of his party openly turned on him, raising questions about his capacity to govern and calling on him to resign. The State Assembly launched a broad impeachment investigation to scrutinize, among other issues, the governor’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, which federal prosecutors also began to investigate. Mr. Cuomo saw his once-soaring approval ratings sink, his fund-raising numbers take a hit and a list of potential challengers expand as he eyes a run for a fourth term next year.
Yet, despite the profound political backlash, Mr. Cuomo has refused to step down. Mr. Cuomo has repeatedly denied many of the claims and any deliberate wrongdoing, apologizing for interactions that may have made women “feel uncomfortable.”
In late February, Lindsey Boylan, a former economic development official in the Cuomo administration, became the first woman to outline her claims against the governor. Ms. Boylan said Mr. Cuomo suggested they play “strip poker” on a plane while on a work trip and said the governor kissed her on the lips in his Manhattan office.
A few days later, Charlotte Bennett, a former executive assistant to Mr. Cuomo, told The New York Times that the governor made comments that she took as sexual overtures while they were alone in his Albany office last year. Ms. Bennett said Mr. Cuomo said he was looking for a girlfriend and asked her whether she was monogamous and had sex with older men.
In early March, a current female aide who has not been publicly identified leveled one of the most serious allegations: She said Mr. Cuomo reached under her blouse and groped one of her breasts while they were alone on the second floor of the Executive Mansion in Albany late last year. She said she had been summoned to his residence to assist Mr. Cuomo with a technical issue. Mr. Cuomo has denied the woman’s account, saying he has never touched anyone inappropriately.
The flurry of allegations, and the growing calls for his resignation, led Mr. Cuomo to authorize Ms. James to oversee an investigation led by outside lawyers into any sexual harassment claims against him.
Following the report’s release on Tuesday, Carl E. Heastie, the speaker of the State Assembly, said that the Assembly, which has the power to impeach Mr. Cuomo, would undertake “an in-depth examination of the report and its corresponding exhibits,” adding that “we will have more to say in the very near future.”
“The conduct by the governor outlined in this report would indicate someone who is not fit for office,” he said in a statement.
The New York state attorney general’s report on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo focused on allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct made by 11 women, nine of whom are current and former state employees.
The report outlined detailed accounts and testimony from those women, whose accusations of improper behavior include inappropriate comments and unwanted kissing and touching. Many, but not all, of the accounts described in the report were previously reported.
The inquiry was sparked in large part by accusations made by Charlotte Bennett, a former executive assistant to Mr. Cuomo who lodged a sexual harassment complaint against him last year.
Ms. Bennett, who was also a health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration, accused the governor of making sexual overtures while the two of them were in his office in the State Capitol last June. The report found that the governor asked whether she had relationships with older men, told her that he was “lonely” during the pandemic and “wanted to be touched” and asked if she was monogamous.
In February and March, Mr. Cuomo said that he had not made advances or “inappropriately touched” anybody, though he apologized for making anyone “feel uncomfortable.” In recent months, the governor has forcefully denied any wrongdoing and insisted he wants to tell his side of the story.
Ms. Bennett’s accusations followed allegations of sexual harassment made by Lindsey Boylan, a former state economic development official, who said in an online essay that Mr. Cuomo had harassed her multiple times from 2016 to 2018. The report found that Mr. Cuomo touched her waist, legs and back; kissed her on the cheek and lips; and suggested once on a plane that the two play “strip poker.” The report also said that the governor’s office “actively engaged in an effort to discredit” Ms. Boylan.
The governor’s representatives have called Ms. Boylan’s accusations untrue.
After Ms. James announced her office’s investigation, another former aide, Ana Liss, told The Wall Street Journal that Mr. Cuomo made her uncomfortable by asking her personal questions about her love life, touching her on the lower back and kissing her on the hand — allegations that were supported by the report.
Ms. Liss told investigators that Mr. Cuomo also kissed her on the cheek. While she found the behavior unwelcome, she felt that she could not rebuff the governor “because saying no could result in being ostracized or fired,” according to the report.
Ms. Liss, who was a policy adviser in the Cuomo administration between 2013 and 2015, later told The Times that Mr. Cuomo’s extra attention to her was noticed by colleagues who made jokes about how the governor found her attractive, causing her further distress.
Alyssa McGrath, who spoke to The Times in March, became the first current aide in Mr. Cuomo’s office to speak publicly about allegations of harassment inside the Capitol. The report found that Mr. Cuomo acted inappropriately toward her, including asking about her marital status and divorce and staring down her shirt and commenting on a necklace that was inside her shirt.
Another current aide, who has not been publicly identified, had accused Mr. Cuomo of groping her breast in the Executive Mansion last year, an allegation that was first made public in the The Times Union of Albany. The report bolstered the account, saying that Mr. Cuomo’s behavior toward the woman, who was not named but instead referred to only as Executive Assistant #1, included “regular hugs and kisses on the cheek (and at least one kiss on the lips)” and “incidents where the governor grabbed Executive Assistant #1’s butt.”
“The Governor, during a hug, reached under Executive Assistant #1’s blouse and grabbed her breast,” the report said.
Mr. Cuomo, 63, has denied any wrongdoing, and has at times suggested that his relationships with employees he viewed as friends may have been misinterpreted.
The attorney general’s report describes several incidents in which Mr. Cuomo is accused of harassing an unnamed female state trooper who was assigned to his protective detail.
According to the report, Mr. Cuomo asked to have her join the detail after a brief meeting in 2017. After she joined the unit, Mr. Cuomo “sexually harassed her on a number of occasions,” according to the report, including running his hand across her stomach when she held the door open for him at an event; running his finger down her spine when she stood in front of him in an elevator; kissing her on the cheek; and asking her why she did not wear a dress.
The investigators included an account from Virginia Limmatis, an employee of an energy company who said that Mr. Cuomo touched her chest and brushed his hand between her shoulder and breasts at an event in 2017.
They provided detailed accounts of misconduct from two employees of New York State-affiliated entities. One woman, who was unnamed, said that Mr. Cuomo asked her to pose for a photograph during an event in New York City in 2019 and then touched the area between her butt and her thigh.
The second, a doctor and former director at the state Health Department who was unnamed in the report, said that Mr. Cuomo made uncomfortable comments when she was giving him a nasal swab during a coronavirus-related news conference last year.
During the news conference, she said, the governor remarked, “nice to see you, Doctor — you make that gown look good” as she approached him in full personal protective equipment.
The investigators discussed the experience of a woman named Kaitlin, whose last name was not given in the report and whose account was described in detail in New York Magazine. Kaitlin said that Mr. Cuomo often commented on her appearance and made her feel uncomfortable.
The report also provided a detailed account from Anna Ruch, who accused Mr. Cuomo of making an unwanted advance at a wedding, including asking to kiss her.
Though she is not mentioned extensively in the report, investigators also spoke with Karen Hinton, who worked closely with Mr. Cuomo when he was federal housing secretary under President Bill Clinton.
Ms. Hinton said she discussed harassment in the office and what she described as Mr. Cuomo’s flirtatious and abusive behavior.
Letitia James, the New York attorney general, unveiled the findings of her office’s sexual harassment inquiry into Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday, describing the report in stark terms and declaring that “we should believe women.”
As she revealed that two outside investigators found during a five-monthlong inquiry that Mr. Cuomo had sexually harassed at least 11 women, Ms. James said the state had “an obligation to protect women in their workplace.”
That, she concluded, was the most important takeaway of the report, which supported their accusations and provided them in detail.
“I believe women, and I believe these 11 women,” she said at the conclusion of a nearly hourlong news conference Tuesday.
The moment was one that Ms. James had not herself sought; Mr. Cuomo, under pressure when the accusations against him first began, referred the matter to her office.
But in the end, she took it on with the conviction and oratorical flair that has marked her rise through New York politics.
Ms. James, a Democrat who is the first woman and first Black person to be elected attorney general in New York, had been considering a run for mayor back in 2018, when the state’s then-attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, abruptly resigned from the post after four women accused him of physical abuse.
She then ran for attorney general, with the backing of Mr. Cuomo, who was running for re-election as governor and with whom Ms. James aligned her campaign. Ms. James then cruised to victory in the general election.
During her campaign, Ms. James largely ran on her opposition to then-President Donald J. Trump. After she was elected, her office opened investigations into Mr. Trump and his family business, as well as several banks that financed Trump Organization projects.
But Ms. James has also shown a willingness to jump into the fray on several other high-profile issues. Her office has investigated pandemic safety concerns at Amazon warehouses and sued the National Rifle Association. She has also called for an end to mayoral control of New York City’s police department.
Many of Ms. James’s competitors in her election criticized her ties to Mr. Cuomo, raising concerns that she would not investigate allegations of misconduct against him. But in January, Ms. James’s office reported that the governor’s administration had underplayed coronavirus-related deaths of state nursing home residents, undercounting them by the thousands.
Still, concerns over the ties between the two elected officials led Ms. James to deputize the independent investigators to conduct the inquiry into the sexual harassment allegations.
Though Mr. Cuomo initially seemed to voice support for an independent investigation, he and his aides have since raised concerns that the inquiry may be politically motivated.
They have suggested that Ms. James’s report may be swayed by her apparent interest in running for governor and challenging Mr. Cuomo’s re-election bid next year. Ms. James has made no public remarks suggesting she will do so.
Asked on Tuesday whether the findings of her investigation should be enough to compel the resignation of Mr. Cuomo, Ms. James demurred.
Instead, she pointed to the bravery of the women, state employees, who had come forward to report abuse by the governor, their ultimate boss.
Lawyers for the women whom Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was found to have sexually harassed called on him to resign on Tuesday, saying that a report released by investigators was “damning” and “devastating.”
Debra Katz, a lawyer for Charlotte Bennett, who accused the governor of sexual harassment in February, said in an interview that the investigators had done a thorough job and called on Mr. Cuomo to “do the right thing and resign.”
“His behavior was egregious, and he does not deserve the position he now holds,” she said.
She noted that, according to the report, the governor had violated a law that he himself had signed in 2019, changing the standard for what constituted criminal sexual harassment.
“He repeatedly violated the law that he signed to great fanfare providing what he said was the most protective law in the United States,” Ms. Katz said.
Mariann Wang, a lawyer for Alyssa McGrath and Virginia Limmiatis, said the report showed that Mr. Cuomo should not be in a position of power. Ms. Limmiatis accused the governor of having touched her inappropriately; Ms. McGrath said that he had made inappropriate comments about her personal life.
“He harassed and demeaned women, fundamentally treating them like objects, and if they dared to complain or not participate, he punished them brutally,” Ms. Wang said.
Letitia James, the New York State attorney general, did not say on Tuesday if her office planned to make a criminal referral, saying only that its role in the investigation was over.
Asked about the possibility that Mr. Cuomo might not face criminal charges, Ms. Wang said the lack of criminal charges would not suggest that the behavior described was “acceptable or lawful.”
“The fact that he’s not being pursued criminally does not mean that it isn’t incredibly serious and a basis for him to step down,” she said.
Lawyers for Mr. Cuomo’s staff also reacted to the report on Tuesday. Sean Hecker, who represents Melissa DeRosa, one of the governor’s top aides, said in a statement that Ms. DeRosa had reported allegations of sexual harassment to the governor’s lawyer and “deferred to them for their judgment regarding appropriate follow-up.”
An unnamed state trooper assigned to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s protective detail was among the women who accused the governor of harassment in a state attorney general’s report released Tuesday.
The state trooper told the investigators that she and Mr. Cuomo met briefly for a few minutes at an event in November 2017 at the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in New York City.
After the two met, Mr. Cuomo spoke to an unnamed senior member assigned to his protective detail and asked that the female trooper join the detail, the report said.
The woman was hired into the detail even though she did not meet the three years of experience with the State Police that was a requirement for the posting, the investigators said.
In an email cited in the report, the senior member of the detail who spoke with Mr. Cuomo told the woman, “Ha ha they changed the minimum from 3 years to 2. Just for you.”
After the woman was moved to Mr. Cuomo’s protective detail in January 2018, the governor “sexually harassed her on a number of occasions,” the report said. The woman told investigators that the governor’s behavior was “flirtatious” and “creepy” and that he did not act in a similar way toward men.
The woman told investigators about several offensive comments by Mr. Cuomo that made her uncomfortable, including multiple times when he criticized her for not wearing a dress, which she said she interpreted as a suggestion that she wear “tighter clothes.”
She also said she felt particularly uncomfortable when Mr. Cuomo once asked her why she wanted to get married, saying that “it always ends in divorce, and you lose money, and your sex drive goes down,” according to the report.
The trooper also described multiple instances in which the governor made unwanted physical contact. In an elevator in Mr. Cuomo’s Manhattan office, she said, he once stood behind her and ran his finger from the top of her neck down her spine to the middle of her back, saying “Hey, you,” she told investigators.
In the summer of 2019, when she was outside his home in Mt. Kisco, in Westchester County, she asked if Mr. Cuomo needed anything, to which he responded, “Can I kiss you?”
In that moment, she told investigators, she froze, wondering how she could politely decline without Mr. Cuomo somehow retaliating. So she replied, “Sure.” When Mr. Cuomo kissed her on the cheek, she said, he said something acknowledging that the behavior was improper. The incident was corroborated by another member of the protective detail, investigators said.
Mr. Cuomo then asked to kiss her on another occasion later that year, the trooper told investigators. That time she declined.
In September 2019, while the trooper was providing security at an event in Long Island and was holding open a door for Mr. Cuomo, he ran his hand across her stomach, from her belly button to her right hip, she said.
A male State Police investigator told the attorney general’s legal team that he saw Mr. Cuomo touch her stomach and asked if she wanted to report it, according to the report. She said at the time that she was fearful of retaliation, he said.
Mr. Cuomo denied touching the female trooper on the stomach or the back and said that he may have once kissed her on the cheek at a Christmas party, according to the report.
Gov. Andrew M.Cuomo did not limit his sexual harassment to women who worked for him, state investigators found. He also targeted at least one woman who was waiting in line to meet him following a speaking engagement in upstate New York.
The woman, Virginia Limmiatis, told investigators that Mr. Cuomo touched her “inappropriately” after the event in May 2017.
After the governor spoke, Ms. Limmiatis, who works for the energy company National Grid, waited in line to meet him. She was wearing a shirt with her company’s name on it.
When Mr. Cuomo reached Ms. Limmiatis, she stretched out her hand to shake his.
Instead, the governor “ran two fingers across her chest, pressing down on each of the letters as he did so and reading out the name of the energy company as he went,” according to the report. “The governor then leaned in, with his face close to Ms. Limmiatis’s cheek, and said, ‘I’m going to say I see a spider on your shoulder,’ before brushing his hand in the area between her shoulder and breasts (and below her collarbone).”
Ms. Limmiatis was “shocked,” according to the report, and immediately told other guests.
When she returned to her office, she told her boss what had happened. He did not suggest reporting it to National Grid or to the governor’s executive chamber, according to the report.
National Grid said in a statement Tuesday that it “supports its employees’ rights to maintain privacy and refers questions about this matter to the employee’s personal attorneys handling the case.”
Ms. Limmiatis did not initially pursue the matter further.
“How do you explain to someone what the governor did in public, such an egregious act, heinous act,” she told investigators. “I was very fearful.”
She ultimately came forward with her story after Mr. Cuomo told reporters on March 3 that he had never touched anybody inappropriately.
“I didn’t know how to report what he did to me at the time and was burdened by shame, but not coming forward now would make me complicit in his lie, and I won’t do it,” Ms. Limmiatis told investigators.
In his testimony, Mr. Cuomo disputed Ms. Limmiatis’s account “and he generally denied touching anyone inappropriately,” the report says.
Ms. Limmiatis referred requests for comments on Tuesday to her attorney, Mariann Wang.
In a statement, Ms. Wang said, Mr. Cuomo “should not be in charge of our government and should not be in any position of power over anyone else.”
The findings of the attorney general’s report — that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women in violation of federal and state law — ignited searing criticism of the governor on Tuesday, bolstering calls from officials across the political spectrum for Mr. Cuomo to step down or be removed from office.
Many top Democrats had already called on Mr. Cuomo to resign when some of the accusations were made public earlier this year. But findings of the monthslong investigation pushed some who had previously resisted calling for the governor’s resignation to do so on Tuesday.
In a video rebuttal, Mr. Cuomo on Tuesday appeared to resist those calls, saying that he “never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.”
Here is a summary of how some Democratic officials in New York were reacting:
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, who had called for Mr. Cuomo to step down in March, said on Tuesday in a joint statement that the allegations against Mr. Cuomo were “profoundly disturbing, inappropriate and completely unacceptable” and called on him to resign. “The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office,” they said.
Representatives Hakeem Jeffries, Gregory Meeks and Tom Suozzi, who had previously stopped short of calling on Mr. Cuomo to step down, said in a joint statement that “the time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign.” They cited the investigation’s findings that the governor “engaged in abusive behavior toward women, including subordinates, created a hostile work environment and violated state and federal law.”
Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the majority leader of the State Senate and one of the first top Democrats to call on Mr. Cuomo to step down this year, repeated that call on Tuesday. “The governor must resign for the good of the state,” she said.
Carl E. Heastie, the State Assembly speaker, did not outright call on the governor to resign, but said the report’s findings were “disturbing” and added that “the conduct by the governor outlined in this report would indicate someone who is not fit for office.”
Mr. Heastie had announced in March that the Assembly would open a broad inquiry into Mr. Cuomo that would determine the grounds for possible impeachment. That investigation is still underway, and on Tuesday, Mr. Heastie said that members of the assembly would “undertake an in-depth examination of the report.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has frequently butted heads with Mr. Cuomo, said that Mr. Cuomo should resign or be impeached. “Andrew Cuomo committed sexual assault and sexual harassment, and intimidated a whistle-blower,” he said. “It is disqualifying. It is beyond clear that Andrew Cuomo is not fit to hold office and can no longer serve as governor.”
Other Democratic state lawmakers echoed calls they had made previously for Mr. Cuomo to leave office. State Senator Todd Kaminsky, who represents parts of Long Island, said that the report’s “damning findings” show Mr. Cuomo should resign or be impeached. Assemblyman Pat Burke, a Democrat from Buffalo, said the report and its impact were “damaging” and called on Mr. Cuomo to resign.
Letitia James, the New York state attorney general, oversaw the inquiry into sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, but she hired two lawyers outside her office to conduct the investigation.
The lawyers, Joon H. Kim, a former acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Anne L. Clark, who has extensive experience in employment law issues, were hired in March.
For weeks, the two lawyers have presided over an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment and other questionable behavior by the governor, directly interviewing many of the witnesses. They have also been looking more broadly at workplace culture in Mr. Cuomo’s office and whether officials properly followed procedure when responding to sexual harassment complaints, people familiar with the matter have said.
Ms. Clark, a partner at Vladeck, Raskin & Clark, P.C., has previously represented plaintiffs in workplace discrimination and sexual harassment cases, both in government and in the private sector.
Earlier in her career, she was a staff attorney at the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, a legal advocacy group for women’s rights now known as Legal Momentum.
Mr. Kim, currently a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, specializes in internal investigations and regulatory enforcement. He also spent years working for the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan. From March 2017 to January 2018, he served as the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, after Preet Bharara was forced out of office by President Donald J. Trump.
Mr. Kim has investigated Mr. Cuomo before. He served as Mr. Bharara’s chief counsel when the U.S. attorney’s office investigated Mr. Cuomo’s decision in 2014 to disband an anticorruption panel and the governor’s possible interference with the panel’s work. That investigation determined that there was “insufficient evidence to prove a federal crime.”
In his time as acting U.S. attorney, Mr. Kim was involved, before trial, in the prosecution of Joseph Percoco, who was once one of Mr. Cuomo’s most trusted aides and a close friend. Mr. Percoco was convicted of federal corruption charges in 2018, and Mr. Cuomo has distanced himself, though members of his inner circle have for years been quietly raising money for Mr. Percoco.
Ms. James hired Mr. Kim and Ms. Clark, in part, to skirt any appearance that the investigation into Mr. Cuomo would be politically motivated. Nonetheless, in recent weeks, as the attorney general’s investigation appeared to be entering its final stages, Mr. Cuomo and his office have expressed some doubt over the neutrality of the outside lawyers.
They have pointed in particular to Mr. Kim’s past experience investigating the governor’s administration and his ties to Mr. Bharara.
“I have concerns as to the independence of the reviewers,” Mr. Cuomo, who authorized the attorney general’s investigation earlier this year, said at a news conference on July 26.
Mr. Cuomo’s aides have also suggested that the attorney general’s inquiry is politically motivated because of Ms. James’s supposed interest in running for governor, though Ms. James, a Democrat, has not said publicly that she is interested in doing so.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo violated federal and state law in sexually harassing his employees and could be held liable in civil court, investigators working on behalf of the New York State attorney general said in a report released Tuesday.
In their report, the investigators found that multiple instances of unwelcome and inappropriate touching reported by those they interviewed — including Mr. Cuomo’s having groped multiple employees’ private parts — constituted sexual harassment that created a hostile work environment.
It remained unclear if Mr. Cuomo might also face criminal charges. Asked if she intended to refer the case for criminal prosecution, the attorney general, Letitia James, said that her office had concluded its work. She said the violations the investigators had identified were civil in nature.
Still, the report said that some law enforcement authorities, including the Albany Police Department, had been notified of allegations in the report.
Creating a hostile work environment is a violation of federal and state civil rights law. Mr. Cuomo may face lawsuits from one or several of his accusers based on the his behavior described by witnesses in the report.
Under New York state law, an individual, as well as an employer, can be held responsible in civil court for a hostile work environment if the individual was “personally involved” in harassment.
One of the lead investigators, Anne L. Clark, noted on Tuesday that the governor himself had signed a law that changed the standard in New York for criminal sexual harassment in August of 2019.
“In New York, a woman need only show that she was treated less well at least in part because of her gender,” Ms. Clark said. “The governor’s conduct, detailed in the report, clearly meets and far exceeds this standard.”
But Kevin Mintzer, a lawyer who has represented several women in sexual misconduct cases, said that while Mr. Cuomo could clearly be held individually liable in state civil court for his conduct, a criminal charge would be difficult for prosecutors to prove.
“Our criminal laws don’t cover much of what sexual harassment is, at least in the workplace,” he said.
In theory, unwanted touching and groping of people’s intimate parts could lead to criminal charges, Mr. Mintzer said, but as a practical matter prosecutors would have to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, a high legal hurdle.
“It’s a fact that this workplace touching and groping is not usually criminally prosecuted,” Mr. Mintzer said. “Whether or not that’s the way it should be is a separate issue.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s public attitude toward the report on allegations of sexual misconduct has changed notably since March, when, under pressure to resign, the governor welcomed the inquiry and urged patience from the public.
“Let the attorney general do her job,” he said then of Letitia James. “She’s very good. She’s very competent, and that will be due process and then we’ll have the facts.”
The following month, Mr. Cuomo shifted to predictions about the content of the report, saying that the investigators would find no evidence of wrongdoing.
The report could not find differently, he said, “because I didn’t do anything wrong.”
By May, Mr. Cuomo, whose political future had seemed in doubt just weeks earlier, had returned to his familiar, combative posture, asserting that he “did nothing wrong, period.”
“If I just made you feel uncomfortable, that is not harassment, that is feeling uncomfortable,” Mr. Cuomo said then.
Two months later, his office completed a full about-turn. In response to the news that he would be interviewed by investigators, one of his senior advisers, Richard Azzopardi, said in a statement that “the governor doesn’t want to comment on this review until he has cooperated.”
“The continued leaks are more evidence of the transparent political motivation of the attorney general’s review,” Mr. Azzopardi added. He provided no evidence that the attorney general was leaking information.
On Tuesday, Ms. James announced that a four-month investigation had found that Mr. Cuomo sexually harassed women, created a toxic workplace environment and retaliated against at least one woman for making her complaints public.
During their investigation into Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the legal team deputized by the state attorney general questioned some of Mr. Cuomo’s closest aides and confidantes.
Some of the women who accused Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment and misconduct have said that top staff in the governor’s office improperly handling their complaints. Others have said that senior advisers to Mr. Cuomo fostered an unprofessional work environment.
It remains unclear whether any of those questioned will be implicated in potential misconduct, but their conversations with investigators are very likely to inform the final report.
Melissa DeRosa, Mr. Cuomo’s top aide and the highest ranking unelected official in the state, is one of several senior Cuomo aides accused of fostering an toxic work environment in the governor’s office, including screaming and cursing at subordinates over small mistakes.
Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Mr. Cuomo, was one of several top Cuomo aides who called former employees to ask about Lindsey Boylan, one of the first women to accuse Mr. Cuomo of misconduct.
Some said they felt the calls were meant to intimidate them; Mr. Azzopardi has previously said the calls were not coordinated and were not meant to silence anyone.
Judith L. Mogul began serving as special counsel to the governor in 2019. She and Jill DesRosiers, who served as Mr. Cuomo’s chief of staff, were senior aides who handled a sexual harassment complaint made last year by Charlotte Bennett, the second woman to publicly accuse Mr. Cuomo
Ms. Bennett’s lawyer, Debra Katz, said that both women failed to properly report the allegations to the government office that would have been responsible for investigating them. Ms. Mogul has said that she “acted consistent with the information provided, the requirements of the law, and Charlotte’s wishes.”
Larry Schwartz, who was one of Mr. Cuomo’s most trusted advisers, briefly served as the state’s vaccine czar. He unexpectedly stepped down in April, following scrutiny over phone calls he made to at least two county executives, in which he discussed vaccines while gauging their support for Mr. Cuomo as he was facing calls to resign. The conversations led to accusations of impropriety, which Mr. Schwartz has denied.
Stephanie Benton, a senior aide to Mr. Cuomo, was accused by Ms. Boylan of suggesting that Mr. Cuomo thought she was a “better looking sister” of another woman. Ms. Benton supervised several of the aides who have accused the governor of harassment, including Ms. Bennett, who told CBS News that she once overheard Ms. Benton tell Mr. Cuomo that she had completed his required sexual harassment training for him.
A lawyer for the governor’s office has denied Ms. Bennett’s assertions, and Ms. Benton has said that her remarks to Ms. Boylan were an attempt at banter.
While much attention has been focused on the state attorney general’s inquiry into the sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, it is not the only investigation the governor’s office faces.
In April, the attorney general’s office opened an inquiry into whether Mr. Cuomo had improperly used state resources while he wrote and promoted his book on the pandemic, for which Mr. Cuomo was expected to earn more than $5 million.
The investigation followed reports that some staff members were involved in various steps of readying the memoir, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic.” Mr. Cuomo has said that any work done by government employees on the book was voluntary, although some minor work may have been “incidental.”
The State Assembly is currently conducting a separate and broader impeachment inquiry into Mr. Cuomo that is exploring the sexual harassment accusations and whether Mr. Cuomo improperly used state resources to write his book.
Led by the Judiciary Committee, which hired an outside law firm, the Assembly’s investigation is also looking at the controversy over the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing home deaths during the pandemic.
It also is likely to examine whether the administration covered up potential structural problems on the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, which connects Rockland and Westchester Counties.
The nursing home scandal — in which Mr. Cuomo and aides have been accused of deliberately obscuring the full scope of deaths in those facilities — is also the focus of a federal investigation.
The F.B.I. has been examining whether Mr. Cuomo and his aides knowingly provided false data on resident deaths to the Justice Department, according to people with knowledge of the investigation.
Federal prosecutors are also looking into whether the Cuomo administration gave the governor’s family and other influential people special access to rapid coronavirus test results at the start of the pandemic, when tests were scarce.