One of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s current employees in the state’s executive chambers has alleged inappropriate sexual conduct by him, making her the sixth woman to describe unwanted sexual advances, and the fifth person he worked with to do so, according to a report from the Times-Union.
The woman reportedly told her supervisors that Cuomo touched her inappropriately when she was summoned to work at the governor’s mansion late last year. Asked about the allegations during a press call on Tuesday afternoon, Cuomo denied any knowledge of them, though the Times-Union had reached out to Cuomo’s office and received a comment from Beth Garvey, Cuomo’s acting counsel.
Cuomo’s office didn’t return our request for further comment; Garvey had told the Times-Union, "All allegations that we learn of directly or indirectly are going promptly to the investigators appointed by the attorney general."
“I’m not aware of any other claims,” Cuomo said during the press call. “This is very simple. I never touched anyone inappropriately.”
He also reiterated what he said during a press conference last week: “No one ever told me at the time that I made them feel uncomfortable... No one every told me that they felt, at the time, that I made them feel uncomfortable or awkward.”
Of the six accounts, four of the women say they were touched inappropriately by Cuomo.
Cuomo, who called for Eric Schneiderman’s resignation in 2018 — when Schneiderman was accused of physical abuse by several romantic partners before a formal investigation had been conducted — was asked during the press call what was different about this situation.
“There are a spectrum of allegations,” he said. “You know allegations. You don’t know facts... Let’s get the facts and then we can have a discussion on the facts.”
The Times-Union’s didn’t have further details about the woman’s identity or her account, though if corroborated, the woman would be the only current staffer to come forward with allegations of sexual harassment, as well as the most recent example of it.
The allegations of Cuomo acting inappropriately now span two decades.
- Karen Hinton’s account is from 2000, when Cuomo led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and she was press secretary. She described Cuomo summoning her to a dimly lit hotel room where he pulled her in for a long, uncomfortable embrace.
- Ana Liss, who worked in Cuomo’s office between 2013 and 2015, was told by another staffer at the time to wear heels, and that Cuomo liked blondes. She told Gothamist that Cuomo regularly kissed her on the cheek.
- Lindsey Boylan, the first woman to come forward on February 24th, recounted how Cuomo joked about playing strip poker, went out of his way to touch parts of her body and kissed her when she was in his Manhattan office in 2018.
- Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo asked her questions about sexual intimacy and whether she would date older men when she worked in his office last year.
- Anna Ruch never worked for Cuomo, only met him in passing at a wedding in 2019, where she says he slipped his arm down her back, grabbed her face in both hands, and kissed her on the cheek.
Political pressure has been mounting from all sides on Cuomo as he faces dueling controversies: his coverup of nursing home deaths and sexual harassment allegations. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins called for Cuomo’s resignation on Sunday, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie stopped just short of doing the same, saying Cuomo should “seriously consider” whether he can continue to lead the state.
Cuomo and his top aides were reportedly calling state lawmakers to rally support this week, after which 21 female Assembly Members penned a statement demanding Attorney General Letitia James be allowed to complete her investigation, though James has the power to investigate the sexual harassment claims whether or not Cuomo is physically in office. A small tranche of more left-leaning Democrats have been calling for Cuomo’s resignation for weeks now, and reiterated their demands after the latest allegation emerged.
James appointed former federal prosecutor Joon H. Kim and employment discrimination lawyer Anne L. Clark to probe the sexual harassment allegations. The Department of Justice is investigating the Cuomo administration's handling of nursing homes and COVID-19 cases during the pandemic..
Update, March 11, 2021: The Attorney General's investigators have created a website, AG Independent Investigation, to field information for their probe. The website says, "This website was created by the Special Deputies to the First Deputy Attorney General of New York to gather information relating to the investigation into sexual harassment allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. If you have information relevant to the investigation, you can contact the Special Deputies in the following ways: 212-225-3100 for voice messages; email@example.com; 518-545-0870 for text messages."