An aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo fabricated the governor’s signature on a document attesting that he had completed a mandatory sexual harassment training in 2019, according to a report by state Attorney General Letitia James.
The training course defined sexual harassment as “any unwanted verbal or physical advance, sexually explicit or derogatory statement or sexually discriminatory remark that is offensive or objectionable to the recipient,” conduct that numerous women accused Cuomo of engaging in.
Both Cuomo and the aide that admitted to fabricating his signature on the document testified that the governor took the mandatory training course in 2019.
An aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted to fabricating the governor’s signature on a document attesting that he had completed a mandatory sexual harassment training in 2019, according to an investigation released by the state’s attorney general.
Stephanie Benton, Cuomo’s office director, told investigators that she was the one who produced the governor’s signature on a 2019 document attesting that he had completed the “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace” training course, according to report from Attorney General Letitia James’s office released Tuesday that said the governor unlawfully sexually harassed multiple women.
Cuomo denied that he ever inappropriately touched any female subordinates in a statement Tuesday. He acknowledged that he does publicly kiss and embrace both men and women, behavior he attributed to “generational or cultural perspectives.”
The signed attestation form states: “I hereby attest that I have completed the following mandatory training courses,” and contains Cuomo’s printed name and signature. The document, which was first reported by WTEN, contains no indication that Cuomo’s aide had signed the document on Cuomo’s behalf.
“A review of the signature on the attestation form shows that the signature looks different from the Governor’s signature on official documents,” a footnote in James’s report stated.
A copy of the “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace” training course obtained by WTEN defined sexual harassment as “any unwanted verbal or physical advance, sexually explicit or derogatory statement, or sexually discriminatory remark that is offensive or objectionable to the recipient.”
The training course also detailed numerous examples in which it would be inappropriate for a boss to invade a subordinate’s personal space, conduct that multiple women alleged Cuomo subjected them to.
The investigation by James’s office concluded that Cuomo engaged in conduct that meets the definition of “sexual harassment” as defined in the mandatory training course.
“[W]e have reached the conclusion that the Governor sexually harassed a number of State employees through unwelcome and unwanted touching, as well as by making numerous offensive and sexually suggestive comments,” the report states.
Despite admitting to fabricating Cuomo’s signature on the form, both Benton and Cuomo testified that the governor had reviewed the training material. The attorney general’s report added that Cuomo did not recall taking the sexual harassment training in any other year other than 2019, and his office was unable to produce any other attestation forms showing that the governor had completed training in any other year.
However, one of Cuomo’s accusers, Charlotte Bennett, told CBS News in March that Cuomo didn’t take the training in 2019.
“In 2019, he did not take the sexual harassment training,” Bennett said. “I was there. I heard [the office director] say, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this for you’ and making a joke about the fact that she was completing the training for him. And then I heard her at the end ask him to sign the certificate.”
Cuomo’s office told CBS News in March that Benton “categorically denies” that she said she took the sexual harassment training for Cuomo.
The governor’s personal attorney, Rita Glavin, released an 85-page response to James’s report on Tuesday that said the attorney general ignored key facts and pieces of evidence that undermined the claims brought forth by his accusers. The report equated dozens of pictures of Cuomo hugging and kissing people in public to shots of former Presidents Barack Obama and George Bush consoling hurricane victims.