Update (2037ET): New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) issued a Sunday night statement explicitly denying claims that he touched and forcibly kissed a former aide, and suggested that inappropriate comments he made about another aide's sex life were nothing more than 'good-natured teasing.'
"Questions have been raised about some of my past interactions with people in the office," said Cuomo, adding "I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm. I spend most of my life at work and colleagues are often also personal friends."
"At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good-natured way," reads the press release. "I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business."
"I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that."
Former aide Lindsey Boylan wrote in a Medium post that she resigned as an aide to Cuomo after he forcibly kissed her during a meeting, and would frequently go out of his way to touch her "on my lower back, arms and legs."
Responding to the accusation, Cuomo wrote on Sunday that he never "touched anybody" and never "propositioned anybody."
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been accused of sexual harassment by a second former aide, according to the New York Times.
Charlotte Bennett, a former executive assistant and health policy adviser to the Cuomo administration up until November of last year, told the Times that Cuomo had asked her sever questions about her sex life - including whether she ever had sex with older men, and whether she was monogamous in her relationships.
He also allegedly told her during a June, 2020 encounter that the 63-year-old governor complained about being 'lonely during the pandemic,' and that he "can't even hug anyone."
Ms. Bennett, 25, said the most unsettling episode occurred on June 5, when she was alone with Mr. Cuomo in his State Capitol office. In a series of interviews this week, she said the governor had asked her numerous questions about her personal life, including whether she thought age made a difference in romantic relationships, and had said that he was open to relationships with women in their 20s — comments she interpreted as clear overtures to a sexual relationship. -New York Times
Cuomo told The Times on Saturday that he thought he was acting as a mentor, and "never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate, before asking for an independent review of the matter - and imploring New Yorkers to await the results "before making any judgements."
Bennett related an exchange in which she felt Cuomo made clear he wanted to sleep with her.
Ms. Bennett said that during the June encounter, the governor, 63, also complained to her about being lonely during the pandemic, mentioning that he “can’t even hug anyone,” before turning the focus to Ms. Bennett. She said that Mr. Cuomo asked her, “Who did I last hug?”
Ms. Bennett said she had tried to dodge the question by responding that she missed hugging her parents. “And he was, like, ‘No, I mean like really hugged somebody?’” she said.
Mr. Cuomo never tried to touch her, Ms. Bennett said, but the message of the entire episode was unmistakable to her. -New York Times
"I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared," Bennett said. "And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job."
Bennett says she reported the interaction to Cuomo's chief-of-staff, Jill DesRosiers, less than a week later - and was subsequently transferred to another job as a health policy adviser, where her office was located on the other side of the Capitol. Bennett also says she reported the incident to a special counsel to the governor, Judith Mogul, towards the end of last June - after which she chose not to insist on an investigation because she "wanted to move on" with her new job.
Cuomo, in his statement, called Bennett a "hard-working and valued member" of his staff who had "every right to speak out," revealing that she had opened up to him about being a survivor of sexual assault.
"The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported," said Cuomo, who did not deny asking Bennett personal questions.
Bennett's accusation comes less than a week after a woman accused Cuomo of sexually harassing her several times between 2016 and 2018, at one point allegedly giving her an unsolicited kiss on the lips at his Manhattan office.
Cuomo says Boylan is lying.
Today I am telling my story. I never planned to share the details of my experience working in the Cuomo administration, but I am doing so now in hopes that it may make it easier for others to speak their own truth. https://t.co/n1Lcc6Ac66— Lindsey Boylan (@LindseyBoylan) February 24, 2021
In response to the allegations against Cuomo - and in light of recent revelations that he withheld nursing home death data in order to avoid prosecution by the Trump DOJ, a top New York state lawmaker, Tim Kennedy (D), said that there's a 'need to get more information," adding "And I believe we're going to be looking for that in the coming days."