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Cuomo Under Fire: Breaking down the legal case against the governor

Currently, it is a civil matter. James has hired an outside independent law firm that has subpoena power to request documents and compel witnesses, including the governor, to testify under oath.

News 12 Staff

Mar 2, 2021, 10:35 PM

Updated 1,209 days ago

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As state Attorney General Letitia James gears up for her investigation into the alleged sexual harassment perpetrated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, News 12 is looking at what the legal aspects of the cases are.
Currently, it is a civil matter. James has hired an outside independent law firm that has subpoena power to request documents and compel witnesses, including the governor, to testify under oath.
In the end, it's expected the investigators will produce a final public report in which they lay out their findings. It could find civil responsibility for violating sexual harassment laws in the workplace, issue a scathing rebuke with recommendations on next steps or clear the governor of all accusations.
There have been calls for Cuomo to resign, but in his last public comments on Sunday, he said he sometimes jokes around and acknowledged that “some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation."
Political analyst Jerry Kremer spoke to News 12 about where the cases could go.
“It could be a serious slap on the wrist that impacts on his image going forward – it depends on the language,” he said. “If it stays a civil matter, then it would be up to the governor as to whether he would weather the storm, or whether he's going to decide it's not worth it.”
He added that most people around the country “don’t think Cuomo is going to resign.”
Attorney Jon Bell says the current state law gives greater protection to those who allege sexual harassment outside the traditional workplace.
“Coincidentally, Cuomo is the one who expanded the sexual harassment laws that now cover contractors, independent contractors, sub-contractors,” says Bell.
The state Legislature could, however, start impeachment proceedings. Kremer says that is extremely unlikely given the political make-up of the Legislature. It’s been more than 100 years since a New York governor was impeached - the last one was William Sulzer in 1913.

The Allegations

One former aide, Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo quizzed her about her sex life and asked whether she would be open to a relationship with an older man. Bennett rejected Cuomo’s attempted apology, in which he said he'd been trying to be “playful” and that his jokes had been misinterpreted as flirting.
Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent at the end of a meeting, and once suggested they play strip poker while aboard his state-owned jet. Cuomo has denied Boylan's allegations.
The woman who spoke to The New York Times about Cuomo's conduct at a wedding, Anna Ruch, hasn’t responded to request for comment from The Associated Press.
Ruch told the newspaper that when she removed Cuomo's hand from her back, he called her “aggressive,” placed his hands on her cheeks and asked if he could kiss her. Cuomo then planted a kiss on her cheek as she turned away.
AP Wire Services contributed to this story. 


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