NEW YORK —
A second former aide mentioned she was sexually harassed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who responded with an announcement Saturday saying he by no means made advances towards her and by no means meant to be inappropriate.
Charlotte Bennett, a well being coverage adviser within the Democratic governor’s administration till November, advised The New York Instances Cuomo requested her inappropriate questions on her intercourse life, together with whether or not she ever had intercourse with older males.
One other former aide, Lindsey Boylan, a former deputy secretary for financial growth and particular adviser to the governor, not too long ago accused Cuomo of subjecting her to an undesirable kiss and inappropriate feedback. Cuomo denied the allegations.
Cuomo mentioned in an announcement Saturday that Bennett was a “hardworking and valued member of our crew throughout COVID” and that “she has each proper to talk out.”
He mentioned he had meant to be a mentor for Bennett, who’s 25.
“I by no means made advances towards Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to behave in any approach that was inappropriate,” Cuomo’s assertion mentioned. “The very last thing I’d ever have wished was to make her really feel any of the issues which might be being reported.”
Cuomo, nonetheless, mentioned he had licensed an outdoor evaluation of Bennett’s allegations.
The governor’s particular counsel, Beth Garvey, mentioned that evaluation could be carried out by a former federal decide, Barbara Jones.
“I ask all New Yorkers to await the findings of the evaluation in order that they know the information earlier than making any judgements,” Cuomo mentioned. “I’ll don’t have any additional remark till the evaluation has concluded.”
Some high New York Democrats, nonetheless, mentioned any investigation needs to be positioned out of the management of the governor’s workplace, together with the choice of the investigator.
“The accused CANNOT appoint the investigator. PERIOD,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Lengthy Island Democrat. “The continued allegations are deeply disturbing and regarding. The behaviour described has no place within the office. A really impartial investigation should start instantly.”
Senate Majority Chief Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Meeting Speaker Carl Heastie, each Democrats, referred to as for an impartial investigator.
The pair of harassment allegations symbolize a deepening disaster for Cuomo, who simply months in the past was on the peak of his recognition for his management throughout coronavirus pandemic..
In latest weeks, he has been assailed over revelations that his administration had underreported COVID-19 deaths in nursing properties. A state assemblyman went public with complaints that Cuomo had threatened to destroy him politically over statements he made within the press, prompting different politicians to share tales about having been bullied by the governor.
Bennett didn’t instantly return a Twitter message from The Related Press searching for remark.
She advised the Instances her most annoying interplay with Cuomo occurred June 5 when she was alone with him in his Albany workplace. She mentioned Cuomo began asking her about her private life, her ideas on romantic relationships, together with whether or not age was an element, and mentioned he was open to relationships with ladies of their 20s.
Bennett mentioned she additionally dodged a query from Cuomo about hugging by saying she missed hugging her mother and father. She mentioned Cuomo by no means touched her.
“I understood that the governor wished to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett advised the Instances. “And was questioning how I used to be going to get out of it and assumed it was the top of my job.”
Bennett mentioned Cuomo additionally advised her he wished a girlfriend, “ideally within the Albany space,” and he was lonely since breaking apart with Sandra Lee, a chef and TV persona.
Bennett additionally mentioned she tried to alter the topic when Cuomo’s feedback had been making her uncomfortable, telling him she was considering of getting a tattoo. Cuomo, she advised the Instances, responded by suggesting she put the tattoo on her buttocks.
Bennett mentioned she knowledgeable Cuomo’s chief of employees, Jill DesRosiers, in regards to the interplay lower than per week later. She mentioned she was transferred to a different job on the other facet of the Capitol. On the finish of June she additionally gave an announcement to a particular counsel for Cuomo.
Garvey acknowledged that the criticism had been made and that Bennett had been transferred consequently to a place during which she had already been .
Garvey mentioned in an announcement that Bennett’s allegations “didn’t embody a declare of bodily contact or inappropriate sexual conduct” and Bennett “was consulted relating to the decision, and expressed satisfaction and appreciation for the way in which during which it was dealt with.”
“The willpower reached based mostly on the data Ms Bennett offered was that no additional motion was required which was in line with Ms Bennett’s needs,” Garvey mentioned.
Bennett advised the newspaper she determined to not push for any additional motion by the administration. She mentioned she appreciated her new job and “wished to maneuver on.”
Jones, who would oversee the investigation, was appointed to the bench by President Invoice Clinton, a Democrat, in 1995. As a decide, she struck down a portion of the Defence of Marriage Act denying federal recognition of same-sex marriage in a ruling later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court docket.
After retiring, she joined the regulation agency Bracewell LLP, the place her work focuses on company compliance and investigations.
Her arbitration work included a 2014 determination throwing out Ray Rice’s suspension by the NFL for punching his fiance in an elevator in an assault recorded on video.
It remained unsure whether or not lawmakers would settle for her appointment.
Requested if Jones’ evaluation is “really impartial,” Mike Murphy, a spokesman for Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, mentioned, “No it’s not, and it needs to be achieved by the lawyer common’s workplace.”
State Senate Minority Chief Rob Ortt, a Republican, mentioned state Lawyer Normal Letitia James ought to appoint a particular prosecutor.
“The evaluation instructed by somebody handpicked by the Governor himself, is an outrageous, fully unacceptable thought. We’d like a very impartial investigation,” Ortt mentioned in an announcement.
Boylan mentioned in Twitter postings Saturday night time that she was pleased with Bennett and alleged Cuomo “tried to destroy many, together with me, within the press.”
“You aren’t going to derail or destroy any extra lives,” she tweeted.