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Ex-New York governor Andrew Cuomo sues Letitia James over access to sexual harassment files

Andrew Cuomo claims he needs the witness statements as defence in two sexual harassment lawsuits

Amelia Neath
Monday 22 January 2024 17:31 GMT
Andrew Cuomo gives first public address since resignation

The former New York governor Andrew Cuomo is suing the state Attorney General Letitia James and her office, hoping to force her to release witness statements from the sexual misconduct investigation that led to his resignation.

The lawsuit, filed on Thursday, is asking for the release of witness statements to defend himself in two sexual harassment lawsuits that “stem directly from the OAG’s investigation and report”.

A federal judge declined the request to release similar records in a separate case filed by Mr Cuomo last year, CBS reports.

In the lawsuit obtained by The Independent, Mr Cuomo alleged that “despite Respondent James’ August 3, 2021 public promise to release those materials, Respondent James has no intention of releasing those materials”.

“Governor Cuomo vehemently denies having sexually harassed anyone, and the witness statements relating to the allegations in both actions are critical to his defense,” the suit added.

He also argued that the public has a “right and interest” in knowing Ms James’ and the New York OAG’s work and the reasons behind why the report made their democratically elected governor resign.

New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report on Mr Cuomo back in 2020 on allegations surrounding sexual harassment (Getty Images)

The suit claims that Ms James has “relentlessly fought against producing the requested materials, claiming undue burden, ‘sovereign immunity’ and various privileges”.

Mr Cuomo resigned in 2021 after the attorney general’s office released a damning report stating that the former governor had sexually harassed state employees and others outside of government, citing 11 women in total in the report.

The report claimed he harassed them through “unwelcome and unwanted touching” and “offensive and sexually suggestive comments”.

Mr Cuomo said that he needs the materials to defend himself in two lawsuits, one by an anonymous New York state trooper and another by Charlotte Bennett, a former aide, whose name was also in the OAG report.

The former government denies the bombshell allegations set against him over two years ago.

“I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. 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,” Mr Cuomo said back in 2021.

Mr Cuomo has asked that the court vacate the denials of his Freedom of Information Law request and compel Ms James and the New York attorney general’s office to disclose all the records in his request.

The former governor said in a statement to CBS News Friday that “every single piece of information that has come out over the last two years has done nothing but undermine Tish James’ sham report and, after publicly stating that ‘evidence will be made available to the public’, she’s done everything she can to hide these documents from taxpayers. This was a political hit job from the beginning to pave the way for Tish’s failed campaign for governor and it’s sad that the courts are needed to step in and order the state’s top lawyer to stop violating the law."

The Independent has reached out to Andrew Cuomo and Letitia James for comment.

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