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Cuomo files suit against James for access to sexual harassment report materials

Former N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) filed a lawsuit against the state’s attorney general Thursday over access to a 2021 report on sexual harassment allegations against the then-governor.

Cuomo’s legal team alleged in the suit, filed in the New York State Supreme Court, that it had filed requests for access to a “narrow subset” of materials underlying the investigation outlined in the August 2021 report, both of which New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) denied. The team also alleged that despite James’s ‘public promise to release’ the requested materials, ‘Respondent James has no intention’ of doing so, claiming that ‘the OAG repeatedly informed Governor Cuomo’s counsel that they will not release the Requested Materials.’

Cuomo’s legal team argued that he needs the materials, which include witness statements to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to defend himself in two sexual harassment lawsuits stemming directly from the investigation and report.

“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 complaint reads.

James cites “undue burden, ‘sovereign immunity,’ and various privileges” in her refusal to provide the materials, according to the complaint.

James’s consistent refusal to release the requested materials, the legal team alleges, “has been and continues to be a denial of fundamental due process.”

The former N.Y. governor’s counsel requested the court vacate James’s denials of the FOIL requests, declare that James “acted unlawfully” by failing to produce the requested materials and compel James and the OAG to disclose “all records responsive to” the FOIL request within five days of the date of an issued order.

The lawsuit comes nearly three years after James announced that an investigation found then-Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed several women and violated state and federal laws, and released a report detailing the results of the investigation.

The investigation came after several women alleged Cuomo perpetrated sexual misconduct including groping, unwanted kissing and inappropriate comments in the workplace.

After refusing to resign despite calls from state lawmakers to step down, Cuomo announced his resignation a week after the report was released, in August 2021, handing the reins to then-Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D).

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