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Earlier this week, the New York State Attorney General released a report detailing the findings of an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The findings were condemnatory. In a press conference Tuesday, Attorney General Letitia James released the report, saying: "These interviews and pieces of evidence revealed a deeply disturbing yet clear picture: Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees in violation of federal and state laws."
Later that day, Cuomo responded with a video message addressing the allegations. He denied any wrongdoing, and said his actions were misinterpreted by the women accusing him.
"I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances," Cuomo said.
A total of 179 interviews were conducted for the investigation. Eleven women alleging abuse were included in the report issued Tuesday, and six of them were identified by first and last name in the document.
Read the report: See the full document here
Some of those women have spoken publicly about the report since its release. Here's what they're saying.
Charlotte Bennett worked with Cuomo as an executive assistant in 2020.
According to the AG report, Cuomo made multiple inappropriate comments with her, including:
Telling Ms. Bennett, in talking about potential girlfriends for him, that he would be willing to date someone who was as young as 22 years old (he knew Ms. Bennett was 25 at the time)
Asking her whether she had been with older men
Saying to her during the pandemic that he was “lonely” and “wanted to be touched”
Asking whether Ms. Bennett was monogamous
Telling Ms. Bennett, after she told him that she was considering getting a tattoo for her birthday, that if she decided to get a tattoo, she should get it on her butt, where it could not be seen
Asking whether she had any piercings other than her ears
Saying that he wanted to ride his motorcycle into the mountains with a woman
Bennett ultimately reported the behavior and was moved to a different position so she would not have to interact with the Governor, according to the report.
In an interview with CBS Evening News, Bennett said the investigation's findings and Attorney General Letitia James' repeated statements regarding believing and supporting the women coming forward made her feel hopeful.
"Today was so validating and really emotional," Bennett told anchor Norah O'Donnell. "It's been a long day but I am proud to be a New Yorker right now."
On the other hand, she said Cuomo's response and denial of the allegations was "actually irrelevant." The report and its findings are facts, she said.
"It's clear that he won’t take responsibility,” Bennett said in an interview with The New York Times on Tuesday. “And we have to look to the Assembly speaker to start impeachment proceedings immediately. There’s not much left to consider.”
Boylan, a former state economic development adviser for Cuomo, first shared her story on social media earlier this year. In doing so, Boylan became the first woman to publicly accuse the governor of harassment.
The AG report confirmed allegations Boylan made, finding that Cuomo made inappropriate comments and made inappropriate physical contact including:
Commenting on her appearance and attractiveness, including comparing her to a former girlfriend and describing her as attractive
Paying attention to her in a way that led her supervisor at ESD to say that the Governor had a “crush” on her and to ask her whether she needed help in dealing with the Governor’s conduct
Physically touching her on various parts of her body, including her waist, legs, and back
Making inappropriate comments, including saying to her once on a plane, words to the effect of, “let’s play strip poker”
Kissing her on the cheeks and, on one occasion, on the lips
On Tuesday, Boylan's lawyer, Jill Basinger, told The New York Times her client intended to file a lawsuit against the governor and his close advisors for retaliating against her.
"Because Lindsey was first, the governor needed to send a message,” Basinger said. “He needed to send a message to every other survivor out there that this is what happens when you go against the machine of the governor’s office.”
Alyssa McGrath and Virginia Limmiatis
According to the report, Alyssa McGrath, an executive assistant for Cuomo, experienced several instances of inappropriate conduct, including:
Regularly asking about her personal life, including her marital status and divorce
Asking whether Ms. McGrath would tell on Executive Assistant #1 (an unnamed victim in the report) if she were to cheat on her husband — and whether Ms. McGrath herself planned to “mingle” with men — on the two women’s upcoming trip to Florida, and then calling the two women “mingle mamas”
Staring down her loose shirt and then commenting on her necklace (which was inside her shirt) when Ms. McGrath looked up
Virginia Limmiatis, a non-state employee who was at a work event in 2017, said Cuomo touched her chest inappropriately at the event, according to the report.
Her shirt had the name of the energy company she worked for written across the chest, and she said Cuomo "ran two fingers across her chest, pressing down on each of the letters as he did so and reading out the name of the Energy Company as he went."
She immediately informed other event attendees about his actions, according to the report, but chose to come forward with her experience after hearing Cuomo deny ever touching anyone inappropriately during a press conference in March, according to the report.
"He is lying again. He touched me inappropriately. I am compelled to come forward to tell the truth," Limmiatis told investigators. "I didn’t know how to report what he did to me at the time and was burdened by shame, but not coming forward now would make me complicit in his lie, and I won’t do it."
Mariann Wang, attorney for McGrath and Limmiatis, said in an interview with FOX Business this week that her clients were subjected to Cuomo's "humiliating and debasing" behavior.
"Alyssa McGrath, who still works in that office, was subjected to having him look down her shirt, making all sorts of deeply personal comments ... that she did not invite and didn't want to participate in," Wang said. "My other client, Virginia Limmiatis, back in 2017 was at a work event ... and as she reached out to shake his hand he looked at her and leaned in and actually put his finger across her breasts."
Wang said in the interview Cuomo's defiant denial of the allegations is offensive, both to the women coming forward but to New Yorkers as a whole.
"This is not casual, kindly affection. It is insulting to suggest it, it is insulting to say that the women misunderstood anything," Wang told FOX Business. "They're adults. They know perfectly well what they experienced — this unwanted sexual touching — and I believe he knew exactly what he was doing as well."
Wang said over the phone Wednesday her clients weren't ready to be interviewed, but may speak with reporters at a later date.
Ana Liss, director of planning and economic development for Monroe County, came forward in March alleging sexual harassment while she worked with Cuomo several years ago.
From 2013 to 2015, Liss worked as an aide in the Executive Chamber, according to the report. During that time, she experienced several inappropriate verbal and physical interactions with the governor, including:
Addressing her almost exclusively as “sweetheart” or “darling”
On occasion, kissing her on the cheeks and hand, touched and held her hands, and slid his hand around her lower waist
Commenting on how she looked “lovely”
Asking whether she had a boyfriend.
Liss told investigators she knew the comments were inappropriate but did not report them at the time because she felt that the workplace environment would not support her.
"In his office, the rules were different. It was just, you should view it as a compliment if the Governor finds you aesthetically pleasing enough, if he finds you interesting enough to ask questions like that," Liss said in the report. "And so even though it was strange and uncomfortable and technically not permissible in a typical workplace environment, I was in this mindset that it was the twilight zone and ... the typical rules did not apply."
In March, Liss said in an interview with 13WHAM that she was being inundated with messages and had to turn off social media notifications after coming forward.
"I'm getting criticism because a lot of years have passed and a lot has happened in society in those years that has forced all of us to reckon with what we thought was OK 10 years ago versus what's OK today," Liss said.
Joon Kim was one of two outside lawyers hired by James to assist in the investigation. During the AG's press conference Tuesday, Kim quoted a portion of Liss' testimony regarding Cuomo's toxic office environment as the findings were presented to the public.
"And I quote, 'What makes it so hard to describe every single inappropriate incident is the culture of the place,'" Kim read. "'I really just wanted to go to work and be recognized for my work and nothing else.'"
Shortly after the AG report was released, Liss said in an interview with Gothamist she felt like she did the right thing.
"I feel grateful that other women were courageous and spoke up," she said. "Our stories amplified each other's. We all knew that he would double down. But how embarrassing for him as a father of three young women, as a man who has gone out publicly and advocated for women's rights."
She told Gothamist she could not watch Cuomo's response video.
"It's not up to him to decide if there was any damage done," she said.
Liss did not respond to a USA TODAY Network reporter's attempts to reach her.
This article originally appeared on New York State Team: Cuomo accusers feel vindicated by AG’s findings, but hope for justice