Andrew Cuomo leaves Il Postino restaurant in Manhattan, New York City on Monday, December 19, 2022.
Gardiner Anderson | New York Daily News | Getty Images
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo subjected at least 13 women to a “sexually hostile work environment” while he was in office, the Department of Justice said Friday as part of an agreement with the state’s current executive office.
Cuomo “repeatedly subjected these female employees to unwelcome, non-consensual sexual contact; ogling; unwelcome sexual comments; gender-based nicknames; comments on their physical appearances; and/or preferential treatment based on their physical appearances,” the DOJ said it found.
The governor’s office under Cuomo knew about his conduct but failed to effectively stop it, the DOJ concluded from the investigation it launched in August 2021, the same month Cuomo resigned amid mounting sexual harassment allegations.
Cuomo’s office instead worked to protect the then-governor from further accusations — and his senior staff retaliated against four of the women he harassed, the DOJ said.
Cuomo attorney Rita Glavin in a statement to CNBC said the former governor “did not sexually harass anyone.”
“The DOJ ‘investigation’ was based entirely on the NYS Attorney General’s deeply flawed, inaccurate, biased, and misleading report,” Glavin said.
That report, released Aug. 3, 2021, found that Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women and retaliated against at least one former employee who came forward to accuse him.
“At no point did DOJ even contact Governor Cuomo concerning these matters,” Glavin said Friday. “This is nothing more than a political settlement with no investigation.”
The DOJ revealed its findings as it announced an agreement to resolve its claims that Cuomo’s office “engaged in a pattern or practice of sexual harassment and retaliation” in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The DOJ said the agreement with the State of New York Executive Chamber, currently led by Gov. Kathy Hochul, memorializes reforms she has already carried out and commits the office to enacting additional changes.
The agreement also notes that, in “consideration” for the executive chamber entering into the agreement, the DOJ is refraining from filing a complaint on its allegations.
Hochul in a statement said that when she took office, she “took immediate action” to “root out the culture of harassment that had previously plagued the Executive Chamber and implement strong policies to promote a safe workplace for all employees.”
“I am pleased that the U.S. Department of Justice has acknowledged the significance of those efforts, and look forward to partnering with them as we continue to build upon that success,” Hochul said.
Cuomo’s spokesman, Rich Azzopardi, noted to CNBC that the agreement says it does not include a “finding on the merits of the case.”
In a separate statement, Azzopardi suggested that Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney who signed off on the agreement, had a conflict of interest because he was the law partner of Joon Kim, who led the New York attorney general’s 2021 investigation of Cuomo.
“This isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, and it’s ironic that Gov. Hochul, who herself is being accused of retaliation, signed off on it,” Azzopardi said.
But Mariann Wang, an attorney for Alyssa McGrath and Virginia Limmiatis, two women Cuomo allegedly harassed, celebrated the agreement.
“We are pleased the US Attorney’s office and the Executive Chamber have taken serious steps to ensure nothing like the abuse Cuomo engaged in will happen again,” Wang said in a statement.
“We hope these measures have real impact and prevent the kind of repeated abuse of power that resulted in so much harm to so many women,” Wang said.