New York governor Andrew Cuomo is facing growing calls to resign after an investigation found he sexually harassed multiple current and former state government employees.
Two lawyers independent of his department spoke to 179 people, and found that his administration was a “hostile work environment” that was “rife with fear and intimidation”.
Its findings have prompted a raft of fellow New York Democrats to call on Mr Cuomo to quit, including a number of members of Congress.
But the governor has rejected the findings, declaring: “I never touched anyone inappropriately. That is just not who I am and that’s not who I have ever been.”
State attorney general Letitia James announced the findings of the nearly five-month investigation on Tuesday.
As well as complainants, the investigators spoke to current and former members of the executive chamber, state troopers, and others who had regular interactions with the governor.
Speaking at a news conference, Ms James said: “These interviews and pieces of evidence revealed a deeply disturbing yet clear picture: governor Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees in violation of federal and state laws.”
The investigation found that Mr Cuomo and his senior staff endeavoured to retaliate against a former employee who accused him of wrongdoing.
It was also determined that the governor harassed women outside government.
Ms James praised the “heroic” women who had come forward, saying the investigation would not have been possible without them.
The allegations against Mr Cuomo, who has been governor since 2011, first emerged late last year.
There were multiple claims that he inappropriately touched and sexually harassed women who worked with him or whom he met at public events.
An aide in his office alleged that he groped her breast.
Another, Lindsey Boylan, said the governor kissed her on the lips following a meeting in his office and “would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs”.
In the wake of Ms Boylan going public, the Cuomo administration released personnel memos to the media which revealed that she had quit her role after being confronted about complaints that she belittled and shouted at her staff.
She said those documents “were leaked to the media in an effort to smear me”.
Other aides said they were subjected to unwelcome questions about sex and dating from the governor.
Today’s report is deeply disturbing. For the good of New York, Governor Cuomo must resign.
My statement with @RepAOC, @RepMondaire, @RepBowman, @NydiaVelazquez, @RepMaloney, @RepRitchie, @RepYvetteClarke, @RepGraceMeng, @RepEspaillat, @RepBrianHiggins, and @RepKathleenRice. pic.twitter.com/pqu3VvQGRD
— Rep. Nadler (@RepJerryNadler) August 3, 2021
Charlotte Bennett, a former aide, said she was asked if she was open to sex with an older man.
Joon Kim, one of the lawyers leading the investigation, told the news conference: “Some suffered through unwanted touching, and grabbing of their most intimate body parts.
“Others suffered through repeated offensive, sexually suggestive, or gender-based comments.
“A number of them endured both. None of them welcomed it. And all of them found it disturbing, humiliating, uncomfortable and inappropriate.”
There were calls for Mr Cuomo to quit when the allegations first emerged last year, but the governor has remained in post and begun raising money for a fourth term in office.
He has always denied touching anyone inappropriately, but did at first say he was sorry if his behaviour with women was “misinterpreted as unwanted flirtation”.
However, he has adopted a more combative approach, saying he did nothing wrong and questioning the motives of his accusers and critics.
Mr Cuomo has also questioned the neutrality of the lawyers hired by the attorney general to investigate the allegations against him.
When Mr Kim was a federal prosecutor in Manhattan, he was involved in corruption investigations concerning members of Mr Cuomo’s administration.
The New York State Assembly is looking into whether there are grounds to impeach the governor – and the attorney general’s report is expected to play a key role in that process.
It has hired its own legal team to look into Mr Cuomo’s conduct, as well as other allegations of wrongdoing that have been levelled against him.
The lower house of the state legislature is examining the help the governor got from top aides to write a book about the COVID-19 pandemic, special access that relatives got to COVID testing last year, and his administration’s decision to initially withhold some data on nursing home deaths in the state from the public.
Derek Chauvin: George Floyd’s killer was stabbed 22 times with ‘improvised knife’ by former mafia member
Derek Chauvin – the ex-police officer jailed over the murder of George Floyd – was stabbed 22 times with an “improvised knife” in prison, it has emerged.
Fellow inmate John Turscak has been charged with attempted murder following the attack on 24 November, which was Black Friday.
The 52-year-old, a former member of the Mexican Mafia, told FBI agents he attacked Chauvin on that date as a symbolic connection to the Black Lives Matter movement.
He also revealed he had been thinking about targeting Chauvin for over a month – and said he would have killed the high-profile inmate had officers not intervened so quickly.
“Life-saving measures” were performed after the stabbing in the prison library, and Chauvin is “expected to survive”.
Turscak has also been charged with three counts of assault and could face an additional 60 years behind bars if convicted. He had been due to complete his current sentence by 2026.
He had led a faction of the Mexican Mafia in Los Angeles during the late 1990s, and went by the nickname “Stranger”.
The former gang member later became an FBI informant and recorded conversations with his associates in the hope of receiving a lighter sentence.
Chauvin had been moved to the jail in Tucson, Arizona last August – and at the time, his lawyer had called for him to be kept away from other inmates for his own protection.
The disgraced cop was convicted of second-degree murder and violating George Floyd’s civil rights after pressing a knee on his neck for nine-and-a-half minutes outside a store in Minnesota in 2020.
Mr Floyd had been suspected of using a counterfeit $20 (£16) bill, and footage from bystanders captured him telling officers “I can’t breathe”.
His death sparked protests worldwide and a national reckoning with police brutality and racism.
‘Serial killer’ hunted in LA after three homeless people shot dead
Los Angeles police are hunting a potential serial killer after three homeless people were shot dead in separate incidents.
The murders took place over a few days – between 26 and 29 November – and the city’s mayor warned rough sleepers on Friday: “Try not to be alone tonight.”
CCTV has been released of the suspect, who’s described as male and probably wearing a hoodie; as well as a dark-coloured vehicle he might be using.
LA police chief Michel Moore said a special task force had been set up “to uncover the identity of a potential serial killer preying on the most vulnerable in our community”.
The murders share similarities: all three happened in the early hours and all suspects were homeless and alone.
Mr Moore said all were shot as they were sleeping or preparing to bed down for the night.
The Los Angeles Times named them as Jose Bolanos, 37, Mark Diggs, 62, and a 52-year-old man who’s yet to be named.
Mayor Karen Bass said she had met with the housing department and homeless service and that they are doing “all we can to make shelter and services available”.
“Our message to our unhoused community is clear – try not to be alone tonight,” she said.
The mayor added: “To the many Angelenos who have friends or family who are unhoused, please let them know the danger that exists.”
George Santos expelled from House over criminal charges and damning ethics report
Republican congressman George Santos has been expelled from the House of Representatives after a report found “overwhelming evidence” he misused campaign donations.
Mr Santos was ousted 311-114 in a bipartisan vote – only the sixth time a member has been kicked out of the House since it was founded in 1789.
Two-thirds of members must support the move – but an excoriating report by the House ethics committee that accused him of breaking federal law appeared to seal his fate.
The 35-year-old led his own defence on the floor of the House and said he would “not stand by quietly”.
Speaking the evening before the vote, he said: “The people of the Third District of New York sent me here. If they want me out, you’re going to have to go silence those people and go take the hard vote.”
Mr Santos argued it would set a precedent that would make expulsions more common.
Three previous cases involved disloyalty to the Union during the American Civil War, the remaining two were after politicians were convicted of federal crimes.
A congressional investigation found he charged his campaign account nearly $4,000 (£3,151) for spa treatments, including
He also spent more than $4,000 at designer store Hermes and made “smaller purchases” from the OnlyFans site – best known for sexual content.
As the outcome of Friday’s vote became clear, Mr Santos put his coat over his shoulders, shook hands with some members who voted against his expulsion and exited the chamber.
The House Speaker solemnly instructed a clerk to inform New York’s governor that his seat was now vacant.
Mr Santos was in his first term and had been previously feted as an exciting prospect after he flipped a district from the Democrats in November 2022.
But the committee launched a probe in March after reports he lied about having Jewish ancestry and his grandparents fleeing the Nazis, working at elite investment bank Goldman Sachs, and his college degree.
It lasted eight months and found “overwhelming evidence” of law-breaking – and Mr Santos has now admitted making up much of his biography.
The US attorney’s office indicted him in May, accusing him of cheating donors, laundering campaign funds for his own personal use, and lying to Congress.
It alleged he stole donors’ identities and used their credit cards to make tens of thousands in authorised charges.
Mr Santos has pleaded not guilty to the charges and his trial is scheduled for September 2024.
“Mr Santos is not a victim. He is a perpetrator of a massive fraud on his constituents and the American people,” said Susan Wild, the top Democrat on the ethics committee.
The last person to be kicked out of the House was Democrat James Traficant over a criminal corruption conviction in 2002.
New York state governor Kathy Hochul now has 10 days to call a special election for Mr Santos’s seat.
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