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'Creepy' and 'flirtatious': How Cuomo allegedly sexually harassed a state trooper

After Cuomo hand-picked the trooper to join his personal detail, a state report said, he subjected her to inappropriate touching and an unwanted kiss.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks before getting vaccinated at the mass vaccination site at Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem on March 17, 2021 in New York.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks before getting vaccinated at the mass vaccination site at Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem on March 17 in New York.Seth Wenig / Pool via Getty Images file

In early November 2017, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held an event at the Triborough Bridge where he chatted briefly with a female state trooper in her 20s. Witnesses said the governor was instantly taken by her.

Cuomo “wanted her on the detail tomorrow,” a senior investigator on the governor’s protective detail told the trooper at the event, according to a report released Tuesday by Attorney General Letitia James.

The trooper didn’t meet the requirement to join the governor’s protective services unit — at least three years of service — but that proved to be no problem. The requirement, the trooper soon learned, had been reduced to two years.

“Just for you,” the senior member of Cuomo’s security detail said in an email, according to the report.

The trooper officially started working on Cuomo’s security detail in January 2018. Over the next three years, Cuomo had a series of encounters with the young law enforcement officer that she would later describe as “flirtatious” and “creepy,” the report said.

They included an unwanted kiss, inappropriate touching, sexually suggestive comments and several invitations to join him “upstairs” at the governor’s executive mansion, according to the report.

James’ investigators documented one encounter that occurred after Cuomo ended his long-term relationship with celebrity chef Sandra Lee.

During a conversation, Cuomo asked the trooper her age. She was in her late 20s.

“You’re too old for me,” Cuomo said, according to the report.

The conversation continued with Cuomo asking her what she thought would be an appropriate age difference between him and a romantic partner. “Probably older than your daughters,” the trooper said, according to the report.

Irked by the line of questioning, the trooper sought to shift the conversation. She joked about becoming the governor’s matchmaker and asked for his requirements.

Cuomo told her that for a girlfriend, he was looking for someone who “can handle pain,” the report says.

On another occasion, Cuomo asked the trooper, who was engaged, why she would want to get married. “It always ends in divorce, and you lose money, and your sex drive goes down,” Cuomo said to her, according to the report.

The trooper, feeling uncomfortable, talked about the positive aspects of getting married, and the conversation ended soon after, the report said.

The governor constantly sought out the trooper at events and would also ask her such questions as, “Why don’t you wear a dress?” according to the report. Over time, the harassing behavior shifted from uncomfortable conversations to unwanted physical contact, the report said.

One day in summer 2019, the trooper was stationed outside the governor’s Mt. Kisco residence when she approached him in the driveway to ask if he needed anything. “Can I kiss you?” the governor responded, the report said.

The trooper didn’t know how to respond.

“I remember just freezing,” she told investigators. “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 else to do, she ultimately replied: “Sure.”

“The Governor then proceeded to kiss Trooper #1 on the cheek and said something to the effect of, ‘oh, I’m not supposed to do that’ or ‘unless that’s against the rules,’” the report said.

Another member of the governor’s security detail witnessed the interaction and corroborated the kiss in an interview with James’ investigators, the report said.

The trooper who was kissed asked a female colleague for advice on how to avoid the situation in the future, the report said. The colleague, a woman whom the report said had been subjected to flirtatious comments from Cuomo, advised her to tell the governor she was sick if he ever asked for another kiss.

The trooper put the advice to good use, according to the report.

In October 2019, the report said, the trooper was working a Cuomo event at Columbia University’s Low Memorial Library when the governor approached her driver-side window and asked to kiss her. The trooper told him she was sick, the report said.

The trooper told investigators that Cuomo looked at her “almost in disgust that [she] had denied him” and then walked away, the report said.

Another uncomfortable encounter allegedly took place some time earlier inside an elevator at the governor’s New York City office. The trooper was standing in front of the door, with Cuomo behind her, when he placed his finger on the top of her neck and ran it down the center of her spine midway down her back, according to the report.

“Hey, you,” Cuomo said, according to the report.

Then on Sept. 23, 2019, the trooper was providing security for the governor at an event in Belmont, Long Island. As Cuomo was leaving, he walked by the trooper and ran the palm of his left hand across her stomach “opposite the direction that he was walking,” the report says.

“The center of the Governor’s hand was on Trooper #1’s bellybutton, and he pushed his hand back to her right hip where she kept her gun,” the report said.

The trooper later told investigators it felt as if her bellybutton was in “the center of his palm.”

Still, she didn’t think she could do anything about it. “I felt completely violated,” she told investigators, the report said. “But, you know, I’m here to do a job.”

A few months later, the trooper attended a holiday party with the governor, his staffers and other troopers. After the party, Cuomo asked her which members of his security detail she was close with. After she gave him the name of a female colleague, Cuomo responded by instructing her not to tell the friend anything he said to her.

“As a matter of fact,” the governor added, according to the trooper, “don’t tell anyone about our conversations,” the report said.

In his interview with James’ investigators, Cuomo said he did recall hugging the trooper and said he may have kissed her on the cheek at a Christmas party, the report said. “However, he denied that he has ever purposely touched Trooper #1 on her stomach or run his fingers down Trooper #1’s back,” the report said.

Asked about his involvement in the trooper’s transfer, Cuomo said several times that he was “on constant alert to recruit more women, Blacks, and Asians to the state police detail,” the report said.

He told investigators he was not aware there were requirements for joining his personal security detail. Cuomo also said he would not support any such requirements as they could interfere with the need to diversify the unit, the report said.

Cuomo’s attorney, Rita Glavin, released an 85-page response to the attorney general’s report, but it does not mention the trooper.

In a video statement, Cuomo denied any wrongdoing but did not specifically mention the trooper.

"The facts are much different than has been portrayed," he said. "I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances."

The New York State Police declined to comment on the report.

Following the release of the attorney general’s report, the president of the New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association issued a sharply worded statement condemning the alleged abuse.

A representative said the trooper was still a member of the force but was no longer on Cuomo’s security detail.

“I’m outraged and disgusted that one of my members, who was tasked with guarding the governor and ensuring his safety, could not enjoy the same sense of security in her work environment that he was provided,” said NYSTPBA President Thomas Mungeer.