New York politicians on both sides of the aisle are speaking out against Governor Andrew Cuomo after he was accused of sexual harassment by a second former aide.
That aide, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett, came out on Saturday and said Cuomo told her he was open to dating women in their 20s and asked her questions about her personal life in June, at the height of the state’s COVID-19 crisis.
It comes after Lindsey Boylan, 36, claimed he asked her to play strip poker and kissed her on the lips without her permission when she worked for him in 2017.
Cuomo, 63, said he ‘never intended to act in any way that was inappropriate’ with Bennett and his press secretary said Boylan’s claims were ‘false’.
On Friday, the governor promised a review of the allegations by former federal judge Barbara Jones – who was appointed by Bill Clinton.
But prominent Democrats including state Sen Alessandra Biaggi, Lt Gov. Kathy Hochul and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie turned their backs on Cuomo and called for a ‘truly independent probe’.
‘@NYGovCuomo, you are a monster, and it is time for you to go. Now,’ Biaggi, a Democrat from the Bronx, wrote on Twitter.
New York politicians on both sides of the aisle are speaking out against Governor Andrew Cuomo after he was accused of sexual harassment by a second former aide
Charlotte Bennett, 25, (left) came out on Saturday and said Cuomo told her he was open to dating women in their 20s and asked her questions about her personal life in June. It comes after Lindsey Boylan, 36, (right) claimed he asked her to play strip poker and kissed her on the lips without her permission when she worked for him in 2017
State Sen Alessandra Biaggi led lawmakers in condemning Cuomo on Saturday
Biaggi continued in a statement: ‘As a New Yorker, a legislator, Chair of the Senate Ethics and Internal Governance Committee, and a survivor of sexual abuse, I am calling for Governor Cuomo to resign.
‘I commend the courage of Ms. Bennett and Lindsey Boylan for coming forward.
‘The harassment experienced by these former staffers is part of a clear pattern of abuse and manipulation by the Governor, and that pattern makes him unworthy of holding the highest office in New York.’
Cuomo’s second-in-command Lt Gov Hochul, called for an independent review into the claims, adding: ‘Everyone deserves to have their voice heard and taken seriously.’
Cuomo promised a review of the allegations by former federal judge Barbara Jones (pictured) on Friday
Heastie said: ‘All allegations of harassment must be taken seriously. A truly independent investigation is warranted.’
New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Cousins said ‘no’ when asked if the investigation called for by Cuomo were sufficient, adding that the new allegations were ‘deeply disturbing and concerning.’
Cousins is calling for Attorney General Letitia James to claim jurisdiction in the issue.
NYC Mayor hopeful Andrew Yang called for an ‘aggressive independent investigation’, calling for an ‘acknowledgement that harassment has no place in public service.’
Another mayoral candidate, Maya Wiley, noted that Cuomo has not outright denied the allegations.
‘I am disgusted. I believe Charlotte Bennett,’ Wiley said in a statement.
‘Senior officials in the Governor’s office were aware of his behavior … What happened to these complaints? Why was no further action taken? How many other times has this happened?’
State Sen Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat and former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, said in a statement: ‘This pattern of behavior requires a swift and immediate, independent investigation, the leader of which must be empowered to access all evidence.’
Even State Sen James Skoufis, a Democrat who leads the Committee on Investigations and has faced criticism for refusing to subpoena Cuomo and his staff over the nursing home scandal, called for an ‘independent, outside, expeditious investigation’ of the ‘deeply disturbing’ allegations.
Republicans likewise called for an investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James, including state Sens Pam Helming, Daphne Jordan, Patty Ritchie, Sue Serino, Alexis Weik and Nick Langworthy.
Sen Biaggi, chair of Committee on Ethics and Internal Governance, called for Cuomo to resign in a stinging statement on Saturday
Maya Wiley, who is running for mayor of New York City, said that she was disgusted by the allegations which she said were not denied by Cuomo
NYC Mayor hopeful Andrew Yang called for an ‘aggressive independent investigation,’ calling for an ‘acknowledgement that harassment has no place in public service’
New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie also called for a ‘truly independent investigation’
New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Cousins said ‘no’ when asked if the investigation called for by Cuomo for sufficient, communications director Mike Murphy told NY1 . Murphy added that Cousins was calling for Attorney General Letitia James to claim jurisdiction in the issue
In a crushing blow, Cuomo’s second-in-command, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (pictured), called for an independent review into the allegations on Saturday, saying: ‘Everyone deserves to have their voice heard and taken seriously’
Bennett, who was an executive assistant before she resigned in November, claims on numerous occasions, the governor asked her questions about her personal life.
The questions in early June included those that pertained to a romantic relationship between two people of different ages.
Bennett said Cuomo also made comments stating he was open to dating women in their 20s, which she took as overtures to a sexual relationship.
The former aide did state that Cuomo never made an attempt to touch her but added that he was lonely and ‘can’t even hug anyone’.
Bennett says she said she missed hugging her parents, to which she claims he said: ‘No, I mean like really hugged somebody?’
Bennett told the New York Times: ‘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.’
In his statement Saturday, Cuomo described Bennett as a ‘hardworking and valued member of the tead during COVID’ who he had tried to ‘mentor’
Bennett, who served in a number of roles for Cuomo – including executive assistant and health policy advisor – said the governor made a number of concerning comments to her last spring during the height of the pandemic in the state.
Bennett informed Cuomo’s chief of staff, Jill DesRosiers, of the interaction and was transferred to her role as the health policy adviser.
Her new office was in the complete opposite side of the Capitol. She also said she gave a statement to Judith Mogul, special counsel to the governor.
She also told her parents and friends of the encounters, soon after they occurred, informing them of the growing discomfort she had with working with him.
According to her LinkedIn, Bennett is now working at Primary Maternity Care as a Director of Operations.
Who is former federal judge Barbara Jones? The woman asked by Cuomo to lead the independent review into his sexual harassment allegations
Both the governor and his special counsel, Beth Garvey, released statements Saturday evening calling for the review from Barbara Jones and for all staff to fully comply after former aide, Charlotte Bennett, accused Cuomo of harassment while working with him during the pandemic.
According to her website, Jones was the former judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
She was appointed by former President Bill Clinton in 1995, working on cases that included accounting and securities fraud, antitrust, fraud and corruption involving city contracts and federal loan programs, labor racketeering and terrorism.
According to her website, Jones was the former judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
In May 2010, she was appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts to serve on the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. Jones served until October 2012.
In 2018, Jones was notably appointed as a Special Master by SDNY Judge Kimba Wood to manage the review of documents that had been seized from Michael Cohen, lawyer for former President Donald Trump.
The appointment to judge came at the recommendation of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), CNBC reported in 2018.
Prior to being a judge, Jones worked under Rudy Giuliani when he was the U.S. attorney in Manhattan in the 1980s.
Jones was instrumental in the conviction of Autumn Jackson in 1997 after they attempted to extort $1million from Bill Cosby.
After stepping down as judge in early 2013, Jones acted as an arbitrator and overturned National Football League running back Rack Rice’s indefinite suspension after he physically assaulted his fiancee in an elevator.
‘She is incredibly efficient,’ Glen Kopp, a partner at Mayer Brown and a former colleague of Jones’ at Bracewell, where the former judge is a private partner. ‘She can consume, absorb and make sense of a lot of information very quickly.’
Bennett said she initially saw Cuomo as a ‘father figure’, telling him she even played middle school soccer against one of his daughters.
‘We got along really well,’ she said, noting that she didn’t think anything of the questions about her dating life at first.
Bennett sent her mother a text on January 20, following an extensive conversation she had with Gov. Cuomo.
‘Had a really long convo with Gov today,’ she texted, telling her mother of the two-hour talk she had with Cuomo.
‘He had a lot to say and was very emotional and serious but also asked a lot of questions,’ she wrote. ‘He got emotional. Not me.’
As she transitioned roles and began working in Albany, Bennett noted that the relationship she had with Cuomo began to change by mid-May.
On May 15, she got to the Capitol at 7am and soon engaged in a chat with Cuomo about her love life.
She told the Times the governor began gossiping with her about who she had been romantically involved with in the governor’s staff.
Bennett shared the conversation with other staff members.
During the chat, Bennett told Cuomo of a speech she was scheduled to give to Hamilton students about her experience as a survivor as sexual assault.
She said that the governor soon became enamored with her story.
‘The way he was repeating, ‘You were raped and abused and attacked and assaulted and betrayed,’ over and over again while looking me directly in the eyes was something out of a horror movie,’ she said in a text to a friend. ‘It was like he was testing me.’
Bennett describes the May 15 encounter ‘as the turning point in our relationship.’
‘Anything before it I now see differently,’ she said. ‘I now understand that as grooming.’
The former aide said three weeks later, Cuomo began asking her questions about her love life after they had finished working in his office with another aide who had already left.
Bennett said the governor even asked her whether she was monogamous or enjoyed having sex with older men.
During a text with a friend on June 5, Bennett expressed being shaken and upset by the encounter and said she was even worried about writing down what happened.
‘Something just happened and I can’t even type it out or put it in a video,’ Ms. Bennett stated.
Bennett did tell her friend that there had been nothing physical between her and Cuomo.
As the two talked the next day, Bennett disclosed the governor asked if she was having sex with other people ‘while in my recent relationships.’
Cuomo allegedly told the former aide that he was lonely, especially following the end of his relationship with Sandra Lee, Bennett shared.
She said Cuomo described Lee as being ‘out of the picture,’ explaining that he was ‘wanting a girlfriend, preferably in the Albany area.’
Bennett said Cuomo asked her about her feelings about age gaps in relationships, allegedly telling her ‘age doesn’t matter,’ a text she wrote to her friend said.
She said: ‘He asked me if I believed if age made a difference in relationships and he also asked me in the same conversation if I had ever been with an older man.’
After she turned 25, Cuomo is said to have made a comment about how ‘he’s fine with anyone above the age of 22.’
Bennett is the second former aide of the governor’s to come forward with allegations after Ms Boylan.
‘For those wondering what it’s like to work for the Cuomo admin, read @LindseyBoylan’s story,’ Bennett said in a Wednesday post
In an essay published to Medium Wednesday, Ms Boylan claimed the Governor asked her to play strip poker on a flight in October 2017 and kissed on the lips without her permission.
Cuomo has denied the allegations from his former special advisor.
Bennett took to Twitter to share Boylan’s story before sharing her own testimony, shading Cuomo in her post.
‘For those wondering what it’s like to work for the Cuomo admin, read @LindseyBoylan’s story,’ she said in the post.
In Wednesday’s Medium post Boylan claimed she was taking a plane ride with Cuomo in 2017 when he asked her to play strip poker.
‘I should have been shocked by the Governor’s crude comment, but I wasn’t,’ she wrote.
She further alleged that during a one-on-one briefing with the Governor to update him on economic and infrastructure projects he kissed her without permission.
‘We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue. As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking.
‘I had complained to friends that the Governor would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs,’ she wrote.
Boylan had already alleged in tweets in December last year that Cuomo ‘abused his power’ and sexually harassed her for years.
In an essay published to Medium Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan – who worked as a special advisor to Cuomo in 2018 – charged that the Governor asked her to play strip poker and kissed on the lips without her permission. Cuomo has denied the allegations
Cuomo said in a statement: ‘When she came to me and opened up about being a sexual assault survivor and how it shaped her and her ongoing efforts to create an organization that empowered her voice to help other survivors, I tried to be supportive and helpful.
‘Ms. Bennett’s initial impression was right: I was trying to be a mentor to her. I never made advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.
‘The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported.
‘This situation cannot and should not be resolved in the press; I believe the best way to get to the truth is through a full and thorough outside review and I am directing all state employees to comply with that effort.
‘I ask all New Yorkers to await the findings of the review so that they know the facts before making any judgements. I will have no further comment until the review has concluded.’
Cuomo’s press secretary Caitlin Girouard issued a statement Wednesday saying Boylan’s latest allegations are untrue.
‘As we said before, Ms. Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,’ she stated.
Special counsel and senior adviser to the governor Beth Garvey said Judge Barbara Jones will lead the review and ‘there are no limits’ on her scope.