Anne Clark is an employment lawyer who helped lead the sexual harassment investigation into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for Attorney General Letitia James. Clark and fellow attorney Joon Kim were appointed by James as special investigators to lead the probe into Cuomo’s behavior and the workplace environment in the governor’s office after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment, assault and other misconduct in 2020.
Clark and Kim presented their 165-page report alongside James at a press conference on August 3, 2021, and revealed their findings that Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, including current and former New York state employees in violation of both state and federal law. The investigation also found that the governor’s office retaliated against one of his accusers because she came forward with her accusations.
Clark said at the press conference Cuomo’s behavior, “clearly meets, and far exceeds” the legal standards set for gender-based workplace harassment. “Women also described to us having the governor seek them out, stare intently at them, look them up and down or gaze at their chest or butt. In sum, the governor routinely interacted with women that focused on their gender, sometimes in explicitly sexualized manner in ways that women found deeply humiliating and offensive,” Clark said at the press conference.
Cuomo, a Democrat who has been New York’s governor since 2011 and will be up for re-election in 2022, continued to deny any wrongdoing in a video statement released after the report was made public. Cuomo said he plans to publish his own report and said, “The facts are much different than has been portrayed. I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. … I am 63 years old. I have lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am, and that’s not who I have ever been.”
James said at the press conference, “These 11 women were in a hostile and toxic work environment, and that we should believe women.” She added, “This is a sad day for New York because independent investigators have concluded that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and, in doing so, broke the law.”
Here’s what you need to know about attorney Anne L. Clark:
1. Clark, Who Interviewed Cuomo for 11 Hours as Part of the Probe, Told Reporters ‘We Find That the Governor on Many Occasions Engaged in Sex-Based Harassing Conduct & Conversations,’ Including ‘Touching Intimate Body Parts’
Clark, Kim and the investigation team conducted an 11-hour interview with Cuomo as part of the probe, The New York Times reported. They also interviewed 11 women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, along with other witnesses, and reviewed emails, text messages, videos, audio files and photos. Clark and Kim said in their report they found the 11 accusations to be credible. “There was corroboration to varying degrees,” Clark said.
“We find that the governor on many occasions engaged in sex-based harassing conduct and conversations. The most serious was the governor’s unwelcome physical contact with women including touching intimate body parts,” Clark said at the press conference. “He engaged in this conduct with state employees, including those who didn’t work in the executive chamber, as well as non-employees.” Clark said an executive assistant “endured repeated physical violations,” including a hug where Cuomo reached under her blouse to grab her breast.
“She was terrified if she spoke out she would lose her job,” Clark said. “But she broke down in front of colleagues who heard the governor on March 3, 2021, claim that he had never touched anyone inappropriately. She had confided in her co-workers who saw her break down as to what happened and they were the ones that reported the conduct to attorneys in the executive chamber.”
Clark said Cuomo also inappropriately touched a state trooper who was assigned to protect him. “In an elevator, while standing behind the trooper, he ran his finger from her neck down her spine and said, ‘Hey you.’ Another time she was standing holding the door open for the governor. As he passed, he took his open hand and ran it across her stomach from her belly button to the hip where she keeps her gun. She told us that she felt completely violated to have the governor touch her, as she put it,between her chest and her privates.”
Clark said, “The governor also engaged in a widespread pattern of subjecting women to unwanted hugs and kisses and touching them in ways that made them uncomfortable. Conduct that is not just old-fashioned affectionate behavior, as he and some of his staff members would have it, but unlawful sex-based harassment. In addition to the physical conduct our investigation found the governor regularly made comments to staff members and state employees that were offensive and gender-based.”
Clark said, “Both federal and state law prohibit gender-based harassment in the workplace. In fact, the governor himself in August of 2019 passed a law that eliminated in New York state the requirement that harassing conduct needed to be severe or pervasive. In New York, a woman need only show that she was treated less well, at least in part, because of her gender. The governor’s conduct detailed in the report clearly meets and far exceeeds this standard.”
2. Clark Is a Partner at the Vladeck, Raskin & Clark Law Firm in New York, Specializing in Employment Discrimination & Employment-Related Matters
James said after appointing Clark and Kim to lead the investigation they are, “independent, legal experts who have decades of experience conducting investigations and fighting to uphold the rule of law. There is no question that they both have the knowledge and background necessary to lead this investigation and provide New Yorkers with the answers they deserve.”
According to her firm’s website, Clark, “represents clients in a wide variety of employment and discrimination cases involving race, gender, harassment, pregnancy, age, disability, sexual orientation, and identity. Anne’s experience also encompasses retaliation, whistleblower, breach of contract, and compensation and benefits cases.” The website says she is “a strong litigator accustomed to navigating highly complex employment matters, Anne leverages her skill, reputation, and pragmatic mindset to resolve issues while avoiding litigation whenever possible. When disputes cannot be resolved, she does not hesitate to take them to trial.”
3. Clark Graduated From New York University & NYU Law
Clark is a graduate of New York University in 1985 and the New York University School of Law in 1990, according to her biography on her firm’s website. She was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1990 and the New York bar in 1991, and is also admitted to the four federal district courts in New York and the U.S. Court of Appeals in the 2nd, 3rd, 7th and 9th circuits, according to her firm.
Clark clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Raymond J. Pettine in Rhode Island. She has also worked as an adjunct professor at the Fordham University School of Law and has lectured about employment legal matters.
4. Clark Worked as a Staff Attorney for the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund, a Legal Advocacy Group for Women
Before joining her current law firm, Clark spent time as a sole practitioner in Massachusetts and then worked at the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund, a legal advocacy group for women, as a Skadden Fellow and staff attorney, where she tackled gender equality and gender-based employment issues, according to NYU. The organization is currently known as Legal Momentum.
While in law school, she also interned at NOW LDEF and worked for the ACLU and Legal Aid Society, according to NYU. She also spent some time working at the law firm Covington & Burling before joining what was then called Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard.
5. Cuomo Tried to Discredit Clark & the Independent Investigation Team, the Attorney General Said
Attorney General James said at the press conference that Cuomo tried to discredit the independent investigators she brought in to look into his conduct. James told reporters, “There were attempts to undermine and to politicize this investigation. And there were attacks on me as well as members of the team. Which I find offensive. Our focus again should be on the bravery and courage of these 11 women and on the others who came forward. These allegations were substantiated. They were corroborated.
James added, “And the team before you, Ms. Clark and Ms. Kim, are professionals widely respected not only in New York but all across the nation. And I support their work, will defend their work and will believe these women.”
During a press conference on July 26, 2021, Cuomo said, “Look at who the independent investigators are. Do a little history, go to Google, Google the independent reviewers and tell me what you see.”