A second former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is accusing him of sexual harassment, according to the New York Times.
The former aide, Charlotte Bennett, alleges that Cuomo asked her questions about her sex life, whether she had monogamous relationships and if she ever had sex with older men, according to the Times. Bennett told the newspaper that the alleged incidents happened late last spring, during the height of the state’s fight against the coronavirus.
Bennett was previously an executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Democratic governor’s administration until she left in November, according to the Times. Bennett recounted one particular episode to the Times that allegedly occurred on June 5, in which she was alone with Cuomo in his office in Albany. The 25-year-old, according to the Times, said the Democratic governor had asked her a series of personal questions, including stating that he was open to relationships with women in their 20s, which Bennett interpreted as clear overtures to a sexual relationship.
CNN has reached out to Bennett for comment on the latest accusation.
In a statement on Saturday, Cuomo denied the allegations saying he believed he had been acting as a mentor and had “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.”
Cuomo said he had requested an “outside review” of the matter and asked that New Yorkers await the findings “before making any judgments.”
“I will have no further comment until the review has concluded,” Cuomo said.
The Times report of a second aide comes after Cuomo denied allegations from another former aide who accused him of sexual harassment, including an unwanted kiss, in a Medium post on Wednesday. Lindsey Boylan alleged that in 2018, the Democratic governor kissed her on the lips following a one-on-one briefing in his New York City office.
Cuomo also firmly denied the allegations in a press conference in December when Boylan first made them. CNN has not been able to corroborate the allegations, and when asked for further comment, Boylan replied that she was letting her Medium post speak for itself.
The Medium post, however, has set off another series of bad headlines for the Cuomo administration.
New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, released a statement on Wednesday calling the accusation by Boylan “disturbing.”
“This is deeply disturbing. Clearly there is no place for this type of behavior in the workplace or anywhere else,” Stewart-Cousins wrote.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, when asked about the sexual harassment allegations by Boylan, said that every person who comes forward with allegations deserves to have “their voice heard.”
“The President has been consistent in his position. When a person comes forward — they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Their voice should be heard, not silenced. And any allegation should be reviewed,” Psaki said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called for a “full and independent investigation” into the allegations by Boylan. Cuomo and de Blasio have a years-long history of animosity, mostly centered on who has authority to do what in New York City, including serious topics like power over the subways and funding for key programs.
“Look, these allegations are really disturbing, let’s be clear about that, they’re really disturbing,” he said, adding, “We got to take this seriously.”
“When a woman comes forward with this kind of very specific allegation, they have to be taken seriously,” de Blasio said.
Cuomo, who had enjoyed sky-high popularity and national recognition for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic last spring, is now facing growing criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in his state regarding his administration’s handling of nursing home death data. CNN has reported he has been pleading with lawmakers for support and has even been accused of threatening political retribution against Democrats who have criticized him in an aggressive effort to contain political fallout from the revelations.
CNN has also reported that the US Attorney’s office in Brooklyn, along with the FBI, are scrutinizing the handling of some of the data surrounding Covid-19 deaths in long-term care facilities in New York. The inquiry was described as preliminary, and it was not clear whether authorities are looking at the governor himself or members of his administration.
Boylan is currently running for Manhattan borough president. She unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Jerry Nadler in a Democratic primary in 2020.