Investigators launch new probe into sexual harassment by Mario Cuomo

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On top of other investigations into women who worked for former governor’s New York gubernatorial campaigns

A new investigation has been launched by New York prosecutors that will center on a “preponderance of evidence” that former New York governor Mario Cuomo sexually harassed women who worked for his political campaigns, the administration announced on Wednesday.

Cuomo, who served as governor from 1983 to 1994, died in 2006.

He won admirers and legendary status as the “father of the welfare state” with his pioneering vision of a New Deal, major expansion of the New York state workfare programs and his early advocacy for universal healthcare.

The news of the latest probe came on top of a separate investigation into women who worked for Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaigns, which concluded in January with prosecutors saying: “There is no legal basis for the conclusion, and no evidence to support, that Governor Cuomo engaged in any criminal conduct” and cleared the Democrat of criminal wrongdoing.

The new probe by federal prosecutors and the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr, was launched after “numerous complaints” from a number of women who were sexually harassed while working for the former governor, the governor’s office said in a statement.

“The goal of these investigations is to ensure the highest standards of governance are observed, and that policies and procedures are in place and working properly,” the statement added.

The complaints, which the governor’s office described as “unfounded” earlier this year, follow years of controversy surrounding allegations that Cuomo harassed and mistreated women in politics, media and the legal profession.

In 2000, Donna Flagg, who had worked for Cuomo’s congressional campaigns, filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, citing multiple instances of unwanted sexual advances by Cuomo that she said forced her to quit and started her on a downward spiral.

The complaints attracted heightened scrutiny in 2006, when Flagg herself came forward with further claims of sexual harassment against the governor.

Those allegations formed the basis of a 1999 TV movie, Without the Governor, about an actor playing a female version of Cuomo, who is unfaithful to his wife, played by Robin Wright, after learning that she has had an affair with a journalist.

In 2014, New York law professor Penny Monsour filed a lawsuit that described what she alleged was the sexual harassment and rape she suffered at the hands of Cuomo and his confidante, longtime confidante and current Buffalo mayor Byron Brown.

“Mario Cuomo spent thirty-four years ignoring the complaints of at least twenty-five women,” Monsour wrote in her lawsuit.

Monsour’s suit alleged “sexual harassment, solicitation of sexual favors, attempts to kiss them, discussing dirty parts of their bodies, making lewd comments, and promising them ‘magnets’ in exchange for sexual favors”.

That case remains unresolved.

Cuomo’s attorney, Barry Bohrer, issued a statement on Wednesday in response to the latest investigation into sexual harassment by his client.

“These very serious, but unsubstantiated, charges have been levied by those previously known to Mario Cuomo’s office, over whom, throughout his long career, he had no authority or control whatsoever,” he said.

He added: “It is safe to say they have no credibility whatsoever.”

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