Violated, demeaning, humiliated and a horror film: These were some of the words that 11 women used to describe Gov. Andrew Cuomo made them feel every time he touched, hugged or kissed them or asked them invasive questions.
Many of these women who spoke to investigators hired by the New York attorney general’s office were state employees. Cuomo was also encountered at public events and in professional settings.
New York’s law on sexual harassment prohibits unwelcome sexual conduct that makes workers feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.
Cuomo denies that he inappropriately touched or harassed anyone. He has said he did not intend to make anyone feel uncomfortable, saying instead he touched and kissed people to put them at ease and his actions were misunderstood because of generational or cultural differences.
Below are the feelings of each woman about how the governor treated them.
STATE TROOPER N. 1
A state police trooper claimed that Cuomo had subjected her to “flirtatious and creepy” behavior after she was promoted to the governor’s protective unit.
He traced his finger down her neck with an elevator. He asked her to kiss him in his driveway at Mt. She said that Kisco was her home.
She told investigators that she recalled “just freezing, being — in my back of my mind, I’m like: oh! How do I say no politely?”
Cuomo held a door for her at an event on Long Island and ran his hand over her stomach and hips.
She said, “I felt totally violated.” She also felt that she couldn’t speak.
“I am a trooper who has just been assigned to the travel team. Are you ready to make waves? She said, “No.” “I have heard terrible stories of people being kicked off the detail and transferred over as if they were tiny things.” It was not something I planned to report.
“The way he kept repeating, ‘You were raped, abused, attacked and assaulted, and betrayed’ over and over while looking directly into my eyes was like something out of a horror film.”
Charlotte Bennett sent this text to a 2020 coworker about a conversation where Cuomo provided feedback on a speech she was giving at her alma matter about sexual assault. She told investigators. He had told her that she had been assaulted.
Bennett said it was one of a number of uncomfortable conversations she had with Cuomo when she worked for him as a low-level aide. He asked her whether she was monogamous, and she said she felt about age differences in relationships. She then gave him a hug and stated that he was looking to find a girlfriend for anyone over 22. She was 25.
In a text exchange, she answered a friend if she had heard of something. She said, “No, but it was as explicit as it could be,” and then she wrote, “I’m so upset, so confused.”
EXECUTIVE ASSISTAN NO. 1
“I felt that the Governor was taking advantage of me. He was profiting. He could see that I was nervous. He could see that I was not saying anything, as he had done it before.
The executive assistant said that Cuomo often hugged her and held her close, rubbed her back, and gave her kisses.
“Every time he touched my body, I felt it was inappropriate. He was my boss, not to mention the Governor of New York. I felt that he misused his power. And, I knew that he was very intimidating,” she said to investigators.
The executive assistant told investigators that Cuomo reached under her blouse to grab her breasts in November 2013. She is still employed by the governor’s office.
STATE ENTITY EMPLOYEE NUM. 1
This September 2019 event saw an employee and her boss meet Cuomo. They took a photo together. According to her, Cuomo touched her bottom while she was taking the photo.
“I felt disempowered and deflated. I felt like I was much smaller than I am. The funny thing about it all is that I was actually making this project possible. We were there because of the work I have been doing… it was a moment that felt like disempowerment.
She wrote in an email she sent after the incident to herself to record Cuomo’s actions, “I then felt many emotions around Cuomo’s inappropriate touching my body, most shock and anger.”
Virginia Limmiatis, an employee of the energy company, extended her hand at Cuomo during an event in 2017. Cuomo instead of reaching for her hand, he slid his fingers across her chest over the letters on her shirt and leaned in so that their cheeks touched.
Investigators heard her describe feeling “absolutely humiliated.” It is very difficult to even talk about it. I was shocked and deeply humiliated. I was shocked. It was a very negative feeling.
She told her coworkers about the incident, but she didn’t report it out of fear or “trepidation.”
“How can you explain to someone, what Governor did in public, such a egregious and heinous act?” I was extremely afraid… how can someone believe that this happened?
In an online post from February, Lindsey Boylan, a former aide who served in various roles, said Cuomo once kissed her on the lips after a meeting.
She wrote, “I was shocked, but I continued walking.”
Boylan said it was “deeply embarrassing on some level”.
“I think that a lot people are like this. This happened to young women without power. It was because I was very senior. I had worked my entire life to reach a point where people would take me seriously. I was not being taken seriously, and I tried so hard to be a little doll for Governor New York. That was extremely humiliating.
A young aide working for the governor, McGrath said Cuomo made sexually suggestive comments, held her uncomfortably close in photos and once looked down her blouse while she was taking notes.
She didn’t feel that she could complain about him behavior because she was reminded by coworkers of how he liked beautiful faces.
“I wanted to believe I was up there helping others because of my hard work. It felt like I would be embarrassed if I told them that. She said she would discredit herself.
Investigators were told by a woman who was only identified as her first name that Cuomo told her she told her to “swap up information” after she was hired to be an aide in his office.
Later, she transferred to another state agency to work and wept in an interview explaining that she didn’t want to be in contact with the governor in this new position.
Ana Liss worked in Cuomo’s office as an aide on a prestigious fellowship for two years. Investigators heard Liss describe feeling “sort of icky” because she was only nominally present on the Fellowship. This Fellowship was supposed be recognising (her) intellect, and (her), credentials. (She) was supposed be influencing policy according this Fellowship program. But, like in practice, she was just eye candy.”
She told WROC-TV in March that when she left the position, she felt she had failed professionally.
“My family and friends noticed that I wasn’t doing well. I decided to leave my family and go to Cornell. I applied for the job and didn’t ask for any assistance from the administration to help me find a new position. It was a lateral move that I saw as I had failed. I couldn’t even survive it.
STATE ENTITY EMPLOYEE NUM. 2
Cuomo said to the employee, “You make that dress look good,” as he swabbed his nostrils for a coronavirus test. This was televised by Cuomo in March 2020.
She was stunned.
She later stated to investigators that she felt it was short in her situation. “I didn’t have many interactions with Governor, and I felt that I had many professional opportunities. These facts were important to me in my professional position and I wanted to share them in order support any other women.
A vomit emoji was how Anna Ruch ended a text message in which she shared photos of Cuomo holding her face at a wedding in September 2019. He touched her and asked her to kiss her. She said she had never met him before.
“I’m so pissed/ I lost my photographers (sic), card, but don’t want our photo on the wedding photos. She wrote, “Yuck!”