Gov. Andrew Cuomo's alleged sexual harassment coincided with his public support of women

Chelsey Cox
  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, per new report from the state AG.
  • Cuomo criticized Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, Trump over harassment allegations.
  • The NY governor passed numerous anti-sexual harassment laws while in office.

A report that said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women motivated President Joe Biden to call on the fellow Democrat to resign while the New York State Assembly is pursuing impeachment if the three-term governor doesn't step down.

The report from the New York state attorney general's office exposed what appear to be Cuomo's differing stances in public and behind closed doors. In public, he was a staunch opponent of workplace sexual harassment, having supported multiple anti-harassment laws while in office. He criticized high-profile individuals accused of sexual misconduct, such as President Donald Trump and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Cuomo, who has denied the allegations, said in a video response released Tuesday that he never touched anyone inappropriately. The video featured pictures of him hugging and kissing people, which he said was simply part of his personality and nonsexual in nature. 

Here's a look at what Cuomo said publicly about sexual harassment and women's rights and what was allegedly happening in his workplace: 

2019-2020: 'Justice to survivors'; groping allegations

"While the federal government shamefully ignores the voices of sexual assault survivors, New York is leading the fight to empower survivors and combat the scourge of sexual harassment and assault," Cuomo said Jan. 17, 2019. "Building on progressive legislation passed last year to enact the nation's strongest anti-sexual harassment laws, we are taking new action to further amend our laws to ensure the strongest possible protections. I thank TIME'S UP for their critical advocacy on these issues and look forward to working together to ensure that our laws not only protect and support women, but also bring justice to survivors."

It was the same year that, according to executive assistant Alyssa McGrath, Cuomo looked down her shirt as she took dictation.

A person identified in the attorney general's report as "Trooper #1" said Cuomo asked to kiss her multiple times and touched her stomach in August and September 2019. 

Cuomo is accused of touching and grabbing the butt of "State Entity Employee #1" in September 2019 while photos were being taken. 

"There has been an ongoing, persistent culture of sexual harassment, assault and discrimination in the workplace, and now it is time to act. ... By ending the absurd legal standard that sexual harassment in the workplace needs to be 'severe or pervasive' and making it easier for workplace sexual harassment claims to be brought forward, we are sending a strong message that time is up on sexual harassment in the workplace and setting the standard of equality for women," Cuomo said Aug. 12, 2019.

The following year, "Executive Assistant #1" said, the governor hugged her, then reached under her blouse and grabbed her breast. 

Also in 2020, aide Charlotte Bennett alleged, the governor talked about potential girlfriends, telling her that he would be willing to date someone who was as young as 22 years old (knowing she was 25 at the time). He allegedly asked her whether she had been with older men and what she thought about monogamy, saying he felt “lonely” during the pandemic and wanted to be “touched."

2018: Eric Schneiderman, Brett Kavanaugh and 'zero tolerance'

Cuomo began 2018 by acknowledging the #MeToo movement. 

"2017 brought a long overdue reckoning where the pervasive poison of workplace sexual harassment was exposed by brave women and men who said this ends now," Cuomo tweeted.

"Our challenge in government is to turn society's revulsion into reform," he said. "There must be zero tolerance for sexual harassment in any workplace, and we can and will end the secrecy and coercive practices that have enabled harassment for far too long."

Cuomo's former adviser Lindsey Boylan claimed that around 2017, Cuomo said to her jokingly, “Let’s play strip poker” while they were on a plane. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, center, is flanked by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, left, and Moreland Commission co-chairman William J. Fitzpatrick upon announcing the panel.

In May 2018, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was accused of abusing women. Cuomo called the allegations "shocking" and said he should step down.

"I have tremendous accolades for the women who came forward. That is the essence of this #MeToo movement and this #MeToo moment. Women who have suffered for many years from sexual harassment having the courage to come forward ... I think these women were especially courageous. They were dealing with the attorney general, the top law enforcement," Cuomo said May 8, 2018.

A month later, Cuomo said reform must also come to the private sector "because sexual harassment of women is real, it is undeniable."

Five months before, Trooper #1 was transferred from the state police to Cuomo's personal security detail. 

Brett Kavanaugh denied Christine Blasey Ford's allegations.

After Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, he faced sexual misconduct allegations in the fall of 2018, and Cuomo rallied against him and President Trump. 

"There is a disrespect for women that this administration chronically exemplifies. After the #MeToo movement, they did absolutely nothing when it came to sexual harassment. They have always diminished the charges of women. Always. Consistently. And they're doing it again. To cheapen or ridicule the pain a woman suffers from a sexual attack is disgusting – sexist and disgusting," Cuomo said Sept. 25, 2018. "You don't understand how the system tortures a person who wants to come forward."

On Oct. 6, Cuomo said, "To Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and all survivors of sexual assault, we believe you and we will fight for you."

It was not his first message of support for Blasey Ford, who said Kavanaugh attacked her in 1982. Cuomo had called her testimony "very compelling."

"What is her possible motive to lie?" Cuomo asked.

In December 2020, Cuomo responded to Boylan's allegations:

"It’s not true. Look, I fought for and I believe a woman has the right to come forward and express her opinion. … But it’s just not true."

2016: Trump's 'values'

Cuomo made strong statements after a tape from an "Access Hollywood" interview was released during the 2016 presidential campaign in which Donald Trump said he grabbed women's genitals

More: 19 women have accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct. Here's what their stories have in common.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo condemned Donald Trump after a tape was released in which Trump bragged about women allowing him to grope them.

"To me, this is not about politics. This is about values. This is the example that we set as a society. This is about what we teach our children and what we show them is OK and what is not OK. And I don't think this is about Democrats and Republicans. This is about decent vs. indecent, frankly. ... I think it was disgusting on a basic human level," Cuomo told NY1 on Oct. 8, 2016. “Anyone who has a mother, a daughter, who has a female friend, this is just disgusting.”

During this time, Cuomo allegedly touched women inappropriately and acted "weird" and "creepy," according to women in the attorney general's report.

Before Trump,  #MeToo

In 2013, Cuomo called for the resignation of Vito Lopez after the assemblyman was accused of sexual harassment.

"There should be a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment, and we must now send a clear message that this behavior is not tolerated," Cuomo said May 17, 2013. "Vito Lopez should not spend another day in office, let alone a whole month. He should resign effective immediately, and if he does not, he must be expelled."

From 2013 to 2015, Cuomo allegedly called a female staff member "sweetheart" and "darling," kissed her on the cheeks and hand, slid his hand around her waist and commented on her appearance. 

Reach Chelsey Cox on Twitter @therealco.