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Justice Department finds Cuomo sexually harassed employees and settles with New York state

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department concluded former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed more than a dozen state employees, according to a settlement announced Friday that confirmed allegations from the damaging misconduct probe that led to the Democrat’s resignation.

The settlement between New York and the Justice Department resolves the federal agency's sexual harassment investigation of Cuomo and outlines additional steps the state will take to change how it handles misconduct complaints.

Cuomo, once a rising star in the Democratic party, left office in 2021 after a report by Attorney General Letitia James concluded he sexually harassed at least 11 women. He has denied wrongdoing and argued James' report was driven by politics, intended to force him from office so she could run for governor.

The Justice Department investigation found a similar pattern of sexual misconduct by Cuomo and said he subjected at least 13 state employees to a sexually hostile work environment. It said Cuomo’s staffers failed to adequately report allegations and retaliated against four women who raised complaints. The agency did not release a full report detailing its investigation but instead published a list of its findings.

The settlement undercut Cuomo's long-standing criticism of James' probe at a sensitive time, with the former governor rumored to be considering a political comeback.

“Today, the U.S. Department of Justice found that Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and created a hostile work environment, confirming what the New York attorney general’s independent report found over two years ago,” a spokesperson for James said. “Andrew Cuomo can continue to deny the truth and attack these women, but the facts do not lie."

An attorney for Cuomo said in a statement that the former governor did not sexually harass anyone.

“The DOJ ‘investigation’ was based entirely on the NYS Attorney General’s deeply flawed, inaccurate, biased, and misleading report. At no point did DOJ even contact Governor Cuomo concerning these matters. This is nothing more than a political settlement with no investigation,” said Cuomo attorney Rita Glavin.

As part of the settlement, the state will set up a process for people to lodge complaints against senior officials to a third-party law firm and will provide additional training on how to report harassment and discrimination. In addition, the governor's office will establish a program dedicated to monitoring potential retaliation against people who file complaints.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat who was lieutenant governor until Cuomo resigned, said she looks forward to continuing to reform the state’s procedures for addressing and preventing sexual harassment and retaliation.

“The moment I took office, I knew I needed to root out the culture of harassment that had previously plagued the Executive Chamber and implement strong policies to promote a safe workplace for all employees, and took immediate action to do so,” Hochul said.