A second woman has accused New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment. Speaking to the New York Times, former aide Charlotte Bennett, 25, claims the Governor asked her if she was monogamous and if she had ever been with an older man.
The former health policy advisor also makes claims the 63-year-old Governor said he was “open to relationships with women in their 20s.”
Lawmakers across the state, along with a number of politicians, commented on the allegations after they broke on Saturday evening. Some called for the Governor to be investigated, others called for his immediate resignation. Parallels have also been drawn with Cuomo and his team’s conduct in other instances, such as the ongoing nursing home scandal.
On Feb 24, Bennett posted a tweet quoting Cuomo’s initial accuser and appearing to support her claims.
— Charlotte Bennett (@_char_bennett_) February 24, 2021
In the Times article, Bennett claims to have initially gotten along well with Governor Cuomo, looked at him as a “father figure” and bonded over things like their mutual connection with Westchester County. Cuomo had even pointed out that Bennett “played middle-school soccer against one of his daughters” who is a similar age.
It says that initially, Cuomo asked questions about Bennett’s “dating life” that “seemed inappropriate but not necessarily unmanageable.”
The topics of conversation eventually moved on to whether Bennett “was monogamous in her relationships” and “had ever had sex with older men.” the Times said.
References Cuomo allegedly made to age differences in relationships are recurrent throughout the story.
Governor Cuomo’s response
In response to the article, Governor Cuomo issued a statement calling Ms. Bennett “a hardworking and valued member of our team during COVID” and saying she has “every right to speak out.”
Cuomo says he tried to be supportive of Ms. Bennett when she opened up to him about being a sexual assault survivor and its effects on her. He also claims he attempted to be “a mentor to her” and denies making any advances or intention of acting inappropriately.
He goes on to ask people to await the findings of a review into his conduct before making any judgement.
Governor Cuomo’s full statement is as follows:
“Ms. Bennett was a hardworking and valued member of our team during COVID. She has every right to speak out.
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.”