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Second woman accuses Cuomo of sexual harassment

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 supposed to be inappropriate.

Charlotte Bennett, a well being coverage adviser within the Democratic governor’s administration till November, advised The New York Times Cuomo requested her inappropriate questions on her intercourse life, together with whether or not she ever had intercourse with older males.

Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, a former deputy secretary for financial growth and particular adviser to the governor, lately 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 team during COVID” and that “she has every right to speak out.”

He mentioned he had supposed to be a mentor for Bennett, who’s 25.

“I never made advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate,” Cuomo’s assertion mentioned. “The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported.”

Cuomo, nonetheless, mentioned he had approved an out of doors evaluation of Bennett’s allegations.

The governor’s particular counsel, Beth Garvey, mentioned that evaluation could be performed by a former federal decide, Barbara Jones.

“I ask all New Yorkers to await the findings of the review so that they know the facts before making any judgements,” Cuomo mentioned. “I will have no further comment until the review 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 Long Island Democrat. “The continued allegations are deeply disturbing and concerning. The behavior described has no place in the workplace. A truly independent investigation must begin immediately.”

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, each Democrats, known as for an unbiased investigator.

The pair of harassment allegations symbolize a deepening disaster for Cuomo, who simply months in the past was on the peak of his reputation for his management in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

In latest weeks, he has been assailed over revelations that his administration had underreported Covid-19 deaths in nursing houses. 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 Associated Press searching for remark.

She advised the Times 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 girls of their 20s.

Bennett mentioned she additionally dodged a query from Cuomo about hugging by saying she missed hugging her dad and mom. She mentioned Cuomo by no means touched her.

“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett advised the Times. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”

Bennett mentioned Cuomo additionally advised her he wished a girlfriend, “preferably in the Albany area,” and he was lonely since breaking apart with Sandra Lee, a chef and TV persona.

Bennett additionally mentioned she tried to vary the topic when Cuomo’s feedback have been making her uncomfortable, telling him she was pondering of getting a tattoo. Cuomo, she advised the Times, 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 alternative facet of the Capitol. At the top of June she additionally gave an announcement to a particular counsel for Cuomo.

Garvey acknowledged that the grievance 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 “did not include a claim of physical contact or inappropriate sexual conduct” and Bennett “was consulted regarding the resolution, and expressed satisfaction and appreciation for the way in which it was handled.”

“The determination reached based on the information Ms. Bennett provided was that no further action was required which was consistent with Ms. Bennett’s wishes,” Garvey mentioned.

Bennett advised the newspaper she determined to not push for any additional motion by the administration. She mentioned she preferred her new job and “wanted to move on.”

Jones, who would oversee the investigation, was appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, in 1995. As a decide, she struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act denying federal recognition of same-sex marriage in a ruling later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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 choice throwing out Ray Rice’s suspension by the NFL for punching his fiancé in an elevator in an assault recorded on video.

It remained unsure whether or not lawmakers would settle for her appointment.

Asked if Jones’ evaluation is “truly independent,” Mike Murphy, a spokesman for Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, mentioned, “No it is not, and it should be done by the attorney general’s office.”

State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, a Republican, mentioned state Attorney General Letitia James ought to appoint a particular prosecutor.

“The review suggested by someone handpicked by the Governor himself, is an outrageous, completely unacceptable idea. We need a truly independent investigation,” Ortt mentioned in an announcement.

Boylan mentioned in Twitter postings Saturday night time that she was proud of Bennett and alleged Cuomo “tried to destroy many, including me, in the press.”

“You are not going to derail or destroy any more lives,” she tweeted.

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