By: SEAN HANRAHAN
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo was accused of sexual harassment for the third time.
The first accusation came from Charlotte Bennett, a former aide. She told New York Times that Cuomo asked her about her sex life and if she had sex with older men. Bennett was 25 years old and Cuomo was 62. “I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett told The Times. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.” She reported the interaction and was transferred to another job. Cuomo denied all of her accusations.
Bennett’s accusations inspired Lindsey Boylan, who worked for the state’s economic development agency, to speak up as well. She published an essay in which she described her encounters, including excessive attempts to touch her arms, back, and legs, a suggestion to play strip poker, and even an unwanted kiss on the lips. The governor’s office once again denied these claims and did not call for independent review. Afterwards, Boylan called for Cuomo’s resignation. “His abuse of power never ends,” she wrote. “He does not get to choose his judge and jury. We do.”
And, most recently, Ann Ruch said she had an encounter with Cuomo at a wedding in 2019 when they were talking about the toast the governor had given. He then placed his hand on her bare lower back. When she removed his hand, Cuomo said that she seemed “aggressive” and placed his hands on her cheeks, then asked if he could kiss her. “It’s the act of impunity that strikes me,” Ruch told New York Times. “I didn’t have a choice in that matter. I didn’t have a choice in his physical dominance over me at that moment. And that’s what infuriates me. And even with what I could do, removing his hand from my lower back, even doing that was not clear enough.” Even a photo was taken of the incident.
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Mr. Cuomo said during an appearance at the State Capitol. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it and frankly, I’m embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say. But that’s the truth.” He still denies the claims, saying to “wait for the facts” and ignoring the public outrage and bipartisan calls (many republicans and some Democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Alessandra Biaggi) for him to resign.
As of now he is being investigated by State Attorney General Letitia James. She said that her office will hire a law firm to lead the investigation The team, which will be hired by Ms. James, will have far-reaching subpoena powers to request troves of documents and compel witnesses, including the governor, to testify under oath. However, the team investigating claims other than Bennett’s and Boylan’s could cause the final report to take months to come out. Lawmakers have privately speculated that the outcome of Ms. James’s inquiry could increase the pressure on Mr. Cuomo to step down or influence his decision to seek re-election next year.