For the second time in less than a week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is being 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.”
Releasing his third statement of the weekend, Cuomo admitted to making inappropriate comments.
“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," Cuomo said.
The governor's counsel, Beth Garvey, confirmed on Sunday in a statement that the governor's office has requested an outside inquiry.
"The Governor's Office wants a review of the sexual harassment claims made against the Governor to be done in a manner beyond reproach," she said. "We had selected former Federal Judge Barbara Jones, with a stellar record for qualifications and integrity, but we want to avoid even the perception of a lack of independence or inference of politics. Accordingly we have asked the Attorney General of New York State and the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals to jointly select an independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation to conduct a thorough review of the matter and issue a public report. The work product will be solely controlled by that independent lawyer personally selected by the Attorney General and Chief Judge."
New York Attorney General Letitia James declined the request.
"To clarify, I do not accept the governor’s proposal. The state’s Executive Law clearly gives my office the authority to investigate this matter once the governor provides a referral," James wrote on Twitter. "While I have deep respect for Chief Judge DiFiore, I am the duly elected attorney general and it is my responsibility to carry out this task. The governor must provide this referral so an independent investigation with subpoena power can be conducted."
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 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.
Cuomo previously called her allegations “just not true.” Cuomo’s spokesperson Caitlin Girouard said Wednesday that all Boylan’s “claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false.”