New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces a new sexual harassment charge after a second former aide described an unsettling power dynamic in his office.
Charlotte Bennett, Cuomo’s former health policy adviser, said the governor had harassed her last year.
Bennet’s allegations against Cuomo came shortly after another former aide, Lindsey Boyland, earlier accused the Democratic governor of sexually harassing her.
However, the 63-year-old politician has denied any inappropriate behavior.
Cuomo’s office had requested an independent review and tapped a former federal judge to investigate the allegations. However, criticism from Democratic lawmakers about the approach led to their plans changed.
On Sunday, Cuomo’s office said it was referring the matter to a New York attorney general and the chief judge of the court of appeals, who will appoint an independent investigator.
Andrew Cuomo, who has been governor for more than ten years, has been embroiled in controversy and pressure on several fronts in recent weeks. He has been under scrutiny from the Democratic Party for allegedly hiding reports from the state Department of Health about coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes.
Earlier, it was announced that the FBI and the US Attorney’s office in Brooklyn were reviewing the data’s handling.
Besides, Cuomo has faced intimidation allegations, including claims by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Blasio said he believed the accusations that Cuomo had threatened a Queens assemblyman were true and claimed that the governor’s tirades were not limited to politicians.
Through a statement released Saturday, Cuomo denied Bennet’s allegations, saying he believed he was acting as a mentor.
“The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported,” Cuomo said, adding that “she came to me and opened up about being a sexual assault survivor. I tried to be supportive and helpful.”
Cuomo also asked New Yorkers to wait for the findings before making any judgments.
He referred to Bennett as “a hardworking and valued member of our team during COVID” and said she had every right to speak out.
What does Bennett say?
Charlotte Bennett, 25, claimed the governor had asked her numerous personal questions and that he had suggested being open to relationships with 20-year-old women.
She said that she believed Cuomo’s were explicit overtures to a sexual relationship.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared and was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job,” she said.
Bennett also said she informed Cuomo’s chief of staff, Jill DesRosiers, after the situation, but she was transferred to another job less than a week later.