© AP
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo violated federal and state laws by sexually harassing multiple women — including current and former state employees — through actions that included touching their "intimate body parts" without consent, officials said Tuesday.

Cuomo also allegedly retaliated against some of the victims and created a "toxic" and hostile work environment in the Executive Chamber, officials said.

The blockbuster announcements came during a news conference at which state Attorney General Letitia James said an independent probe she commissioned had found that Cuomo engaged in "unwanted groping, kissing, hugging and making inappropriate comments."

James called it "a sad day for New York" and said it was up to Cuomo to decide whether to resign, as has been demanded by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

The AG didn't say anything about referring Cuomo for potential prosecution, but one of the lawyers she hired to conduct the investigation, Anne Clark, noted that the Albany Police Department had already been notified by Cuomo's office about an accusation that he groped a female aide in his Executive Mansion in Albany last year.

That allegation is the most serious made against him but it's unclear if the alleged victim has cooperated with cops.

Clark also said the alleged victims were all free to file civil suits against Cuomo.

The sex harassment scandal is also part of wide-ranging impeachment investigation by the state Assembly's Judiciary Committee and Cuomo is under investigation by the FBI and the Brooklyn US Attorney's Office for his handling of nursing homes amid COVID-19 pandemic, including the cover-up of total resident deaths from the disease.
4 women Cuomo victims
© Backgrid; EPA; Shutterstock; Twitter
Lindsey Boylan, Charlotte Bennett, Ana Liss and Karen Hinton have all come forward to accuse Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment.
The AG's probe involved accusations that Cuomo, 63, sexually harassed several current and former female staffers, most of whom are in their 20s or 30s.

Investigators gathered evidence from 11 women, nine of whom are or were state employees, said former acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon Kim, one of two outside lawyers hired to conduct the probe. One alleged victim is a state trooper who served on Cuomo's security detail, Kim said.

The trooper told the investigators that while she was holding a door open for Cuomo, he passed by and ran his open hand against her stomach. "She told us she felt completely violated," Clark said.

Clark also said that after Cuomo, a three-term Democrat, "had become single, he asked the trooper how old she was when she responded she was in her late 20s, he said that's too old for him. He then asked her how much of an age difference he thought he could have between him and a girlfriend, and have the public still accept it," Clark said.

When the trooper tried "to deflect the conversation by asking the governor what he was looking for in a girlfriend, he responded that he was looking for somebody who could handle pain," Clark said.

"Another time, when the governor found out that the trooper was engaged, he asked her why she wanted to get married because, among other things, your sex drive goes down."

Cuomo also allegedly told a then-aide, Charlotte Bennett, that she looked like "Daisy Duke," from the TV show The Dukes of Hazzard. "He suggested that she get a tattoo she was contemplating on her and asked her if she had any piercings anywhere other than her ears," Clark said.

Kim said that two women described a work event where a staffer sat on Cuomo's lap and that another recalled him kissing her on the lips.

One woman described her interactions with Cuomo as "strange and uncomfortable" and "like The Twilight Zone," saying that "Typical rules do not apply, you should view it as a compliment," Kim said.

"Another complainant testified and I quote, 'What makes it so hard to describe every single inappropriate incident is the culture of the place. On the one hand, he makes all this inappropriate and creepy behavior normal, and, like, you should not complain,'" Kim said.

"'On the other hand, you see people getting punished and screamed at for anything if you disagree with him or his top aides.'"

When Cuomo was interviewed under oath, Kim said, he "testified that those things may have happened with senior staffers."

At several points during the July 17 session — which was recorded on video — Cuomo angrily confronted Kim over his role in previous federal investigations of the governor and his allies, the New York Times reported Monday.

Last week, several lawyers involved in the investigation also toured the Executive Mansion and Cuomo's offices in the state Capitol, where the alleged harassment is said to have taken place, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing two people familiar with the inquiry.

Cuomo has apologized for acting "in a way that made people feel uncomfortable" but has repeatedly denied having "touched anyone inappropriately" or engaged in other misconduct.