Hidden among the pages of transcripts released by the office of the attorney general last week were insights into how Andrew Cuomo treated women – both those who worked for him and those who did not.
Here are a few examples.
“…so his face was right up to my cheek, and whispered in my ear and he said, I'm going to say that I see a spider on your shoulder,” Virginia Limmiatis stated.
“…it felt like kind of his fingers moved two times upward to kind of, you know, grab that area between my butt and my thigh,” State Entity Employee #1 recalled.
The release of the transcripts came after charges of forcible touching were filed against the former governor.
Rita Pasarell, esq., co-founder of the Sexual Harassment Working Group (SHWG), shared her takeaways with Capital Tonight.
“I believe the words of these 11 women,” Pasarell said. “Another main takeaway I have is I believe the conclusion of the attorney general’s report, which is that under state law, Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women. One of the women describes that Cuomo had grabbed her breast, and that is the one, of course, where the Albany City Court criminal charge for forcible touching is sitting right now.”
Pasarell’s third takeaway is that Cuomo should never again hold a position of authority.
“Cuomo must never again be allowed the privilege of being in charge of state workers,” she said. “That is a big concern of ours and the Working Group since the impeachment seems to be a little lost, or not going to happen.”
The state Assembly’s impeachment investigation has continued, but it’s not clear that a former governor can be impeached under state law. Members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee are expected in Albany Thursday and Friday to review a report commissioned by the Assembly and conducted by the law firm Davis, Polk and Wardwell.
Meanwhile, the forcible touching charges brought against the former governor were thrown into doubt last week when Albany County District Attorney David Soares announced that Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple acted without his involvement.
“The process does look a little messy,” Pasarell, an attorney, told Capital Tonight. “What I see here is a sheriff and a district attorney who aren’t quite in lock step. But I don’t think that it is fatal to the charge.”
The top priority for the SHWG for the 2022 legislative session is ending what Pasarell called "the license to harass," which is a catch-all for attempts by the state and elected officials to muddy the waters around who, exactly, employs a legislative staffer.
“What we want is for the New York State law to be crystal clear. End this license to harass. It’s a bill held by [Sen. Andrew Gounardes] and [Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou.]"
The bill codifies that under the New York State Human Rights Law, staff of elected and appointed officials are employees of the governmental entity(ies) for which they work, whether it is New York State, or a city, county or municipality.