For the second time in less than a week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was accused of sexual harassment by a former aide.
On Saturday, the New York Times released an account from Charlotte Bennett, who claimed the governor asked “questions about her sex life, whether she was monogamous in her relationships and if she had ever had sex with older men.”
Bennett, 25, left the governor’s office last November, and said the harassment came last spring during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett told the New York Times. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
In a statement, Cuomo called for a review of Bennett’s claims.
“I tried to be supportive and helpful,” Cuomo said in a Saturday statement. “Ms. Bennett’s initial impression was right: I was trying to be a mentor to her. I never made advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.
The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported. This situation cannot and should not be resolved in the press; I believe the best way to get to the truth is through a full and thorough outside review and I am directing all state employees to comply with that effort. I ask all New Yorkers to await the findings of the review so that they know the facts before making any judgements. I will have no further comment until the review has concluded.”
Earlier in the week, a former member of Cuomo’s administration who previously accused him of sexual harassment offered new details.
Lindsey Boylan said in a Wednesday blog post that the Democrat once kissed her on the lips without consent. During her more than three years in the administration, she said Cuomo “would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs,” compared her to one of his rumored ex-girlfriends and once joked they should play strip poker.
“I’m compelled to tell my story because no woman should feel forced to hide their experiences of workplace intimidation, harassment and humiliation — not by the governor or anyone else,” Boylan said.
Boylan responded to the second allegation against Cuomo Saturday in a tweet.
“You are not going to derail or destroy any more lives,” she said.
Cuomo previously called Boylan’s allegations “just not true.” Cuomo’s spokesperson Caitlin Girouard said Wednesday that all Boylan’s “claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false.”
The state’s Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement that “everyone deserves to have their voice heard and taken seriously. I support an independent review.”
State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, chair of the Senate Ethics and Internal Governance Committee, called for the governor to resign.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins called the allegations “disturbing and concerning” and called for a “truly independent investigation.”