NEW YORK — Just hours after an investigation found New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former employees, Cuomo defended his history of kissing people.
He denied ever sexually harassing people and showed a photo montage of himself touching people’s faces and kissing them on the cheek.
“I actually learned it from my mother and from my father,” he said. “It is meant to convey warmth, nothing more.”
Cuomo said it’s something he does with everyone and that it’s something he’s done his entire life: “Black and white, young and old, straight and LGBTQ, powerful people, friends, strangers, people who I meet on the street.”
He said there are “hundreds if not thousands” of photos of him using the gesture.
The nearly five-month investigation found that Cuomo’s administration was a “hostile work environment” and was “rife with fear and intimidation.” The probe, conducted by two outside lawyers, involved interviews with 179 people including Cuomo’s accusers, current and former administration employees and the governor himself.
Employment lawyer Anne Clark, who led the probe with former U.S. Attorney Joon Kim, said they found 11 accusers to be credible, noting the allegations were corroborated to varying degrees, including by other witnesses and contemporaneous text messages.
“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,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said at a press conference on Tuesday.