James and two lead investigators outlined their findings of the report on Tuesday. They include evidence that the governor harassed multiple women, both current and former state employees, and women inside and outside of state government.READ MORE: Cuomo Says ‘I Never Touched Anyone Inappropriately’ After Investigation Finds He Sexually Harassed Multiple Women
The report was damning, and included words like “fear,” “intimidation,” and “retaliation,” and it called the executive chamber a “hostile work environment.”
As CBS2’s political reporter Marcia Kramer reported, listening to James and her team document the stunning charges against Cuomo, followed by the governor’s strident denials, is going to force New Yorkers and members of the state Legislature to play “who do you believe.”
WATCH: Attorney General Letitia James Releases Report Finding Gov. Andrew Cuomo Sexually Harassed Multiple Women
The attorney general said she believes the women. The governor wants you to believe him.
“I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advance. I am 63 years old. I’ve lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am, and that’s not who I have ever been,” the governor said.
In many respects, it was a tale of alternate realities. Cuomo offered a highly produced, pre-taped response to bombshell allegations by James and her investigators that the state’s chief executive acted against multiple women repeatedly over a period of seven years, starting in 2013.
“That Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, and in doing so, violated federal and state law,” said James.
The attorney general said her investigators, former federal prosecutor Joon Kim and employment lawyer Anne Clark, spoke to 179 witnesses over the course of five months, and reviewed more than 74,000 pieces of evidence. The 11 victims, she said, were often young women in and out of state government.
“These interviews and pieces of evidence reveal a deeply disturbing, yet clear picture,” James said. “The independent investigation found that Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, many of whom were young women, by engaging in unwanted groping, kisses, hugging, and by making inappropriate comments. Further, the governor and his senior team took actions to retaliate against at least one former employee for coming forward with her story, her truth.”
One of the most startling findings was that the governor even inappropriately touched a female state trooper assigned to his protective detail.
“Our investigation revealed that these were not isolated incidents. They were part of a pattern of sexually harassing behavior that was not limited to his own staff. It extended to other state employees, including a state trooper who served on his protective detail,” lead investigator Joon Kim said.
“In an elevator … he ran his finger from her neck down her spine,” Clark said. “Another time she was standing, holding the door open for the governor. As he passed, he took his open hand and ran it across her stomach, from her belly button to her hip, where she keeps her gun. … She told us she felt completely violated.”
WATCH: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Reacts To Report Saying He Sexually Harassed Women
The report charged the governor with retaliating against one of his accusers, Lindsey Boylan, and with running a hostile, toxic work environment that was rife with fear.
The investigation found that the executive chamber was a toxic environment where “you could not say no to the governor,” Kim said.
It was a work environment “ripe for harassment,” Kim said.
“Some suffered through unwanted touching and grabbing of their most intimate body parts. Others suffered through repeated, offensive, sexually suggestive or gender-based comments,” Kim said.
“I am inspired by all the brave women who came forward and, more importantly, I believe them,” James said.READ MORE: TIMELINE: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Under Investigation
Among those James believes is the Albany woman who said Cuomo groped her and touched her breasts at the executive mansion, and Charlotte Bennett, a sexual assault victim who said months ago she thought the governor was grooming her for sex by asking her about the time she was raped.
“He wanted a girlfriend. When he said he was lonely, I mentioned that his daughters had been around,” Bennett said in March. “He said ‘Yeah, I love my daughters, but I want a girlfriend.'”
There is even a recording of him singing to Bennett on the phone.
The governor’s story was 180 degrees different. He claimed he asked her questions because he was trying to help her, because he, himself, had an unnamed relative who was a survivor of sexual assault.
“This young woman brought it all back,” Cuomo said.
The investigation leaves many questions.
“I know this is a civil investigation, but will you be making any referrals to prosecutors so he could face either state or federal charges?” Kramer asked.
“Our work has concluded, and the document is now public. The matter is now civil in nature, and doesn’t have criminal consequences,” James said.
But that remains to be seen.
The Albany district attorney is requesting James’ report, and it remains to be seen if any of the victims files criminal charges.
The findings come after Cuomo was questioned for 11 hours several weeks ago.
The report finds the executive chamber was a hostile work environment and 11 allegations of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior leveled against the governor are credible.
Cuomo didn’t resign, despite many fresh calls for him to do so. During his statement, he showed a slideshow that showed him touching, kissing and hugging numerous people, saying it is behavior he’s engaged in for years.
A separate investigation into the governor’s book deal remains open.
Reacting to Tuesday’s report, former aide and Cuomo accuser Bennett took to Twitter with a simple message to the governor.
“Resign,” she wrote.
— Charlotte Bennett (@_char_bennett_) August 3, 2021
The blockbuster report about Cuomo has renewed calls from a chorus of political leaders for Cuomo to resign. This comes after numerous leaders previously called for the governor to step down, including Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and many more.
Boylan, a former aide, was the first to publicly accuse the governor of sexual harassment in a series of tweets back in December. Cuomo flatly denied the allegation as “simply not true.”
Yes, @NYGovCuomo sexually harassed me for years. Many saw it, and watched.
I could never anticipate what to expect: would I be grilled on my work (which was very good) or harassed about my looks. Or would it be both in the same conversation? This was the way for years.
— Lindsey Boylan (@LindseyBoylan) December 13, 2020
In February several more women came forward. Bennett said the governor had asked her several questions about her personal life, including how she felt about dating older men. Bennett was followed by Anna Ruch, who claimed the governor placed her hands on her bare lower back while at a wedding and asked to kiss her.
Cuomo has previously apologized for making “people feel uncomfortably” but vehemently denied touching anybody inappropriately.MORE NEWS: Lawmakers Call On Cuomo To Resign Or Be Removed From Office In Wake Of Sexual Harassment Investigation
Editor’s note: This story first appeared on August 3.