Updated: August 03, 2021 11:46 PM
Created: August 03, 2021 10:54 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — News that a state investigation has bolstered sexual misconduct allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo came as a jolt to the man who was Cuomo’s number two for four years.
“It’s something that I don’t expect and something that is indefensible,” exclaimed former lieutenant governor Bob Duffy.
On Tuesday, state Attorney General Letitia James unveiled the results of an investigation into claims by 11 women against the governor.
Duffy, who served as Gov. Cuomo's lieutenant governor from 2011 to 2014, says he was "shocked and dismayed" by the news and applauded the courage of Cuomo’s accusers.
The AG’s report said working for the governor was a “hostile work environment” marked by “fear,” “intimidation” and “retaliation.”
As James looked into the charges, Duffy insists he has kept an open mind, and that the allegations don't match his recollections of the governor.
"I can say emphatically,” Duffy declared, “I was there for four years. At no time did I hear, see or have anybody report something of this nature. Ever."
But Duffy admitted he only dealt personally with the governor about 10% of the time, while also acknowledging Cuomo's strong personality.
“I saw somebody who certainly was a person who had very high expectations,” Duffy recalled. “Worked hard. In the office early, in the office late every day. Pushed and pushed and pushed.”
“The governor,” Duffy said, “is somebody who, by nature, is affectionate. He sees me. He has hugged me, kissed me in the past. Never something inappropriate.”
Duffy's successor, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, said it wouldn't be appropriate for her to say much, pointing out that she'd become governor if Cuomo left, but in a statement, she did say, in part: "Sexual harassment is unacceptable in any workplace, and certainly not in public service." Click here to read her full statement.
She went on to say "I believe these brave women and admire their courage coming forward."
Should Cuomo step down?
“It is not my position to say what people should do,” Duffy said. “I've never called on anybody to resign. That is a personal decision by people.”
Duffy said he’s confident this scandal should not affect the functioning of state government but, from his current position with the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, he sent out his own statement saying “intent” doesn’t matter and the impact of the governor’s actions does.
"Leadership does matter,” he said. “Leaders set the tone. Leaders really set the tone for a culture, be that in an office, or beyond. It starts at the top. And there is no excuse.”
Duffy said if he had become aware of anything improper during his time in the Cuomo administration, he would not have turned his back on it.
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