Jonathan Turley: Cuomo sexual harassment accusations – governor now looking at years as a serial defendant

Gov. Cuomo is looking at the overwhelming likelihood of civil lawsuits being filed against him

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

The late New York Gov. Mario Cuomo once famously said "have no quarrel with people seeing me as a sinner." Politicians can indeed survive as sinners, particularly repentant sinners.

However, Mario’s son, Andrew Cuomo, the current New York governor, moved today from presumed sinner to presumed assaulter. 

He is likely to have a far greater quarrel with that distinction but he is facing 11 women, including a current staffer, who have accused him of extensive acts of sexual harassment and assault. Cuomo is looking at years of litigation, including depositions as not just a sinner but an accused predator.

The most notable factual allegations came from a state trooper assigned to his protective detail who said Cuomo ran his hands over her body and that this assault was witnessed by another trooper. Other women gave testimony that Cuomo tried to press women into relationships, creating a "toxic" environment for women, and attacking not just women but also the investigators (which Attorney General Letitia James called "offensive").

CUOMO SEXUALLY HARASSED MULTIPLE WOMEN IN VIOLATION OF STATE AND FEDERAL LAW, NY AG FINDS

Putting aside the likelihood of impeachment proceedings, Cuomo is looking at immediate legal exposure. The most important disclosure is that a current staff member is one of the eleven alleged victims. That could be important in litigating these claims. Under federal law, the statute of limitations is three years. State periods are shorter but a current allegation can be used to incorporate into prior cases which might otherwise be barred by the statute of limitations.

Some of these allegations would constitute misdemeanor assault given allegations of Cuomo the breasts and butts of staffers. However, those offenses face the same problems of statutes of limitations even though one woman has filed a complaint with the Albany Police department. Attorney general James specifically stated that her office views this matter as "closed" and the allegations as "civil" matters.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK CALLS FOR GOV. CUOMO'S RESIGNATION AND IMMEDIATE ARREST

In addition to sexual harassment claims, the women could bring tort actions over assault and infliction of emotional distress. There could also be claims over defamation after Cuomo effectively called some of these women liars by denying certain acts ever occurred. He has categorically denied the groping allegations despite the state trooper’s claim that it was witnessed. 

Once again, the viability of such actions will depend on the statute of limitations. Some of these torts could be alleged to have continued through his actions and statements in response to the controversy.

In his public response Tuesday, Cuomo gave a foreshadowing of his defense as a type of serial kisser and hugger. He does not go all in with the Clintonesque "bimbo eruption" attack but he does paint accusers as politically motivated. He claims that this is a "generational" or "cultural" difference that has been weaponized by the "politics and bias" in this scandal. He even attacks his accusers as undermining real victims of sexual harassment. Cuomo quoted his father as saying "politics is an ugly business" but this promises to perfectly grotesque in the months to come.

ANDREW CUOMO'S EX-GIRLFRIEND WORRIED ABOUT HIS DAUGHTERS AMID SEXUAL HARASSMENT SCANDAL: SOURCE

The ongoing impeachment proceedings against the governor will now receive a record composed of 11 alleged victims, 179 interviews and 74,000 pieces of evidence. 

Notably, unlike what occurred in the truncated Trump impeachment (including the first snap impeachment in history) Cuomo will receive a thorough and complete impeachment investigation. 

More from Opinion

The last governor to be impeached could not have been more different. In 1913, William "Plain Bill" Sulzer was targeted for impeachment after pushing anti-corruption measures that irritated the infamous Tammany Hall. He was impeached based allegations involving the misuse of a small amount of campaign funds.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE OPINION NEWSLETTER

Known as the "Poor Man’s Friend," Sulzer had no friends in the political machine. That may now be the only similarity to Cuomo. He has more alleged victims than public allies after the James report.

What’s more, Cuomo is still looking at an ongoing investigation over the alleged use of public staff and resources in writing his controversial book "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic" – a book deal that resulted in advance of $5.1 million from Crown Books.

Cuomo will now have to spend much of that $5 million in litigation that will likely continue for years.

Cuomo is facing the small possibility of a criminal charge following the attorney general’s investigation but looking at the overwhelming likelihood of civil lawsuits. 

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

In his 2014 book, "All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life," Cuomo wrote "Some have suggested that I see my return to political life as a second chance. Not really—I see it as if I had come back from the dead. And I’ve discovered that being a political Lazarus has a silver lining: When you survive your worst fears, there’s very little that can shake you."

This report however is a roadmap for litigants and, regardless of whether he shakes or survives, Cuomo will now spend years as a serial defendant.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM JONATHAN TURLEY