- A trooper with two years of experience was picked for Andrew Cuomo’s detail by governor himself.
- Cuomo says it was part of an effort to add diversity to his state police detail.
- A New York AG’s report says when the trooper became Cuomo’s driver, she was subjected to harassment.
ALBANY, N.Y. – In November 2017, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had a brief conversation with a young female state trooper who was assisting at his event at the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge that runs between the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan.
That small talk, she testified, led to a series of events that concluded with her being a key witness in a 165-page report released Tuesday that details a litany of acts of sexual harassment by the governor against her and 10 other women.
The report from state Attorney General Letitia James’ office lays out the trooper’s harrowing experiences with Cuomo: from being handpicked by him to join his security detail (even without the requisite experience) to ultimately being subjected to a string of touching incidents and inappropriate comments.
And her story was illustrative of the other female state workers who were interviewed by investigators about the harassment they endured while working close to Cuomo, who faces growing calls for his resignation and threats of impeachment if he doesn’t do so.
“We find that the Governor sexually harassed a number of current and former New York State employees by, among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women,” the opening paragraph of the report said.
Many of the women who testified had already come forward to tell parts of their story publicly.
The trooper, who was not named in the report, had not done so.
‘What did you say to him’
Soon after the chance encounter in 2017, according to the trooper’s testimony, a senior investigator told her that the governor “wanted her on the detail tomorrow.”
And the next day, she got an email with the subject line: “what did you say to him???????”
A fellow trooper wrote that there was talk of “drafting” her to Cuomo’s security detail, which travels with him around the Capitol.
But there was a problem: The female trooper, who is now 30 according to the Times Union in Albany, needed three years’ experience for the unit, and she only had two. The investigator soon emailed her: “Ha ha they changed the minimum from 3 years to 2. Just for you.”
When asked about his involvement in the trooper’s initial transfer to his detail, Cuomo told investigators repeatedly that he “was on constant alert to recruit more women, Blacks, and Asians to the state police detail.”
First, she was stationed at Cuomo’s private residence at the time in New Castle, Westchester County. And among the inappropriate encounters, she said, was that Cuomo asked to kiss her there.
She testified, “I remember just freezing, being — in the back of my head, I’m like, oh, how do I say no politely because in my head if I said no, he’s going to take it out on the detail. And now I’m on the bad list.”
Unsure what to do, she replied, “Sure,” the report said, saying the incident was corroborated by another member of the police unit who was there.
The allegation is now under investigation by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office.
Cuomo has denied touching anyone inappropriately, saying only he tends to hug and kiss people when he greets them.
“I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” he said in a video address Tuesday.
“I am 63 years old. I have lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am and that’s not who I have ever been.”
Interactions with Cuomo
In April 2019, she was moved to a role on the governor’s travel team, even serving occasionally as his driver. Investigators, through interviews and documents, found that after the trooper was reassigned, she was subjected to sexual harassment by the governor.
In one example, she described him “running his hand across her stomach, from her belly button to her right hip, while she held a door open for him at an event.”
In another, she alleged he ran his finger down her spine and said, “Hey you.”
He also kissed her on several greetings, asked her to help him find a girlfriend and described his criteria for a girlfriend as someone who “can handle pain.”
That wasn’t all: She described times when he asked her why she wanted to get married when it means “your sex drive goes down” and asked her why she did not wear a dress.
“Trooper #1 found these interactions with the Governor not only offensive and uncomfortable, but markedly different from the way the Governor interacted with members of the (police unit) who were men, and she conveyed these incidents contemporaneously to colleagues,” the report said.
It is unclear where the trooper now works. The report said she didn’t come forward on her own: Investigators contacted her after they heard about her experiences.
“She felt and continues to feel great fear and anxiety that she will be retaliated against for disclosing these incidents of inappropriate conduct by the Governor,” the report said.
But it added: “She concluded it was the right thing to do in light of the other allegations by women that have been made against the Governor.”
Joseph Spector is the Government and Politics Editor for the USA TODAY Network’s Atlantic Group, overseeing coverage in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. He can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany