New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) ran his hand across the stomach of a female state trooper assigned to his detail — a move that she says left her feeling “completely violated” — only a month after he signed a 2019 law strengthening protections for sexual harassment in the workplace, according to the report from the state attorney general.
The incident allegedly occurred in September 2019, when the state trooper was holding a door open for the governor. According to the report, while Cuomo was going through the door, “he ran the palm of his left hand across her stomach in the direction opposite the direction that he was walking.” She testified that she felt the “palm of his hand on my bellybutton” and felt “completely violated” by it because the contact happened in the area “between my chest and my privates.”
Investigators say they corroborated the incident with a senior member of Cuomo’s security detail, and that that person even asked whether she wanted to report the incident. She told investigators that she declined to report it out of fear that either she, or the senior member who asked whether she wanted to report it, would be punished.
Only a month prior, on August 12, 2019, Cuomo had signed a law that eliminated “the restriction that harassment be ‘severe or pervasive’ in order to be legally actionable.”
“There has been an ongoing, persistent culture of sexual harassment, assault and discrimination in the workplace, and now it is time to act,” Cuomo said in a statement at the time. “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.”
Mentioned in the state’s report was Cuomo’s other contact with that same state trooper, including an alleged incident that happened on August 13, 2019, the mere day after he signed the law.
According to the report, the trooper was driving Cuomo to an event when he asked her why she wasn’t wearing a dress, to which she responded that she wouldn’t have anywhere to put her gun. After Cuomo asked another question about her attire, a detail commander in the car interjected, saying that all detail members were required to wear business attire.
The detail commander later told the trooper not to tell anyone about what had happened in the car, although by the time she was told that, she had already told someone in another detail car, “[O]h my god, can you believe the Governor asked me why I don’t wear a dress?”
Cuomo’s alleged “dress” comment mirrors an allegation made by an executive assistant, who told investigators that he once told her “it’s about time you showed some leg” when she wore a dress to work. That same executive assistant told investigators that Cuomo had kissed her on the lips on one occasion, and on another, reached under her blouse and grabbed her breasts.
That former assistant has since identified herself publicly as Brittany Commisso. Cuomo has denied making the comment, kissing her on the lips, or grabbing her breasts.
The state trooper, according to the report, also had a number of other interactions with Cuomo that made her uncomfortable, including his alleged questioning of why she’d ever want to be married when they always end “in divorce, and you lose money, and your sex drive goes down.” Cuomo also allegedly told the trooper, who is in her late 20s, that she was “too old” for him and that he wanted a girlfriend who could “handle pain.”
She testified that the governor once ran his fingers down her neck and back while they were in an elevator, saying “hey you.” Another time, she said, Cuomo asked permission to kiss her. She recalled, “I remember just freezing, being — in the back of my head, I’m like, oh, how do I say no politely because in my head if I said no, he’s going to take it out on the detail. And now I’m on the bad list.” She told the governor “sure.” Another state trooper corroborated the account, telling investigators he saw him kiss her on the cheek.
Cuomo told investigators that he recalled speaking to the state trooper about marriage but denied making the comment she said he made. He also denied kissing the state trooper — but said it’s possible he did so on the cheek at a Christmas Party — and denied ever purposefully running his hand across her stomach or down her back.
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