New York Governor Andrew Cuomo accused of sexual harassment for second time in one week
Seems like the problems facing New York governor, Andrew Cuomo keep piling up as another former aide of his has come forward with allegations of sexual harassment, just days after his first accuser made her claims public.
In a New York Times exclusive, Charlotte Bennett, an executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration until she left in November, alleged that Cuomo “asked her questions about her sex life, whether she was monogamous in her relationships and if she had ever had sex with older men.”
Bennett aged 25, described an incident that took place in June when she was “alone” with the governor aged 63 in his State Capitol office.
According to the New York times report, he allegedly asked her if she thought age made a difference in romantic relationships and that he was open to having relationships with women in their 20s, which were noted by the Times as “comments she interpreted as clear overtures to a sexual relationship.”
Bennett alleges that Cuomo never tried touching her, but that the governor’s “message” during that exchange was “unmistakable to her.”
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett told the Times.
“And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
According to the Times, Bennett disclosed the incident to Cuomo’s chief of staff Jill DesRosiers less than a week later and submitted a lengthy statement to Cuomo’s special counsel Judith Mogul at the end of the month.
She was them transferred to another job as a health policy adviser, placing her on the opposite side of the Capitol building.
Bennett told the Times she didn’t legally proceed with the case because she “wanted to move on” and that she was content with her new job.
Cuomo has now responded to the bombshell reports, claiming she came to him to reveal she was a sexual assault survivor, he was trying to be helpful towards her.
In a press release on Saturday February 27, Cuomo called Bennett a “hardworking and valued member of his team during COVID” who has “every right to speak out.”
“When she came to me and opened up about being a sexual assault survivor and how it shaped her and her ongoing efforts to create an organization that empowered her voice to help other survivors, I tried to be supportive and helpful,” Cuomo said in a statement, which was issued to the Times.
“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.”
Cuomo added that he will “have no further comment” until a “full and thorough outside review” of Bennett’s claims is conducted and concluded.
Cuomo’s special counsel Judith Mogul also released a statement, which read in-part, “Ms. Bennett’s concerns were treated with sensitivity and respect and in accordance with applicable law and policy… The determination reached based on the information Ms Bennett provided was that no further action was required which was consistent with Ms Bennett’s wishes.”
Lindsey Boylan, Cuomo’s first accuser, who was the former deputy secretary for economic development and a special adviser to Cuomo, published a bombshell essay Wednesday on the website Medium.
She accused the governor of going “out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs,” forcibly kissing her on the lips during a one-on-one briefing, and suggesting that they “play strip poker” during a plane ride.
Cuomo’s office denied Boylan’s harassment claims, calling them “simply false” and insisting the strip poker comment “did not happen.”
Boylan has now expressed her support for Bennett.
“I am with you Charlotte. We are with you. Always,” Boylan wrote. “I am so proud of you Charlotte.”
Meanwhile, Cuomo faces another scandal over his controversial policy of ordering COVID-positive patients into nursing homes in the early months of the pandemic and is now reportedly facing investigations by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney over an alleged cover-up of nursing home deaths in his state.
CNN, the home network of Cuomo’s younger brother Chris Cuomo, has not given the scandal much coverage since it broke on Saturday.
CNN also went roughly 24 hours without acknowledging Boylan’s damning sexual harassment claims after she came forward.