The state Attorney General is asking Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office to preserve evidence as part of the inquiry into allegations of sexual misconduct from three women.
State Attorney General Letitia James's office confirmed Saturday they have requested Cuomo’s staff keep any records relevant to the inquiry, stemming from allegations by Charlotte Bennett, a 25-year-old former staffer and two other women who have publicly described unwanted sexual advances from Cuomo.
James has been tasked by Cuomo’s office to appoint an outside lawyer to conduct an independent review of the allegations from Bennett, former adviser Lindsey Boylan, and Anna Ruch, a woman Cuomo met once at the wedding of his top staffer Gareth Rhodes.
Cuomo’s spokesperson Richard Azzopardi said in a tweet that the Attorney General’s request to preserve evidence was delivered March 1st “and our counsel’s office acted promptly and notified all chamber staff of their obligations associated with that."
The governor on Wednesday apologized for making “anyone feel uncomfortable” and that he felt “embarrassed and hurt,” and said that he had never done anything he was ashamed of during his time as an elected official.
Boylan claims Cuomo forcibly kissed her and made her deeply uncomfortable by commenting on her appearance to other staffers over the span of three years. Bennett said the governor had highly inappropriate conversations about her sex life with her last May in the midst of the pandemic. Ruch, who did not work in the Cuomo administration, alleges that Cuomo forcibly kissed her on the cheek while they attended Rhodes's wedding in 2019.
Bennett also said in an interview with CBS News this week that Cuomo never completed mandated sexual harassment training for public employees, though he claimed he did in his press briefing Wednesday.
Bennett said in 2019 she witnessed Cuomo’s director of governor’s offices Stephanie Benton telling the governor that she had completed his mandatory sexual harassment training for him.
“I was there. I heard Stephanie say, "I can't believe I'm doing this for you," and making a joke about the fact that she was completing the training for him," Bennett said. “I heard her at the end ask him to sign the certificate.” Benton denied the incident to CBS News.
The state legislature on Friday passed a bill to curb Cuomo’s emergency powers, with the governor expected to sign the legislation next. The bill basically curbs the governor’s ability to write new kinds of rules or laws, but allows all the existing directives to be extended with an additional comment period from the state legislature.
The inquiry into the sexual misconduct claims comes as federal investigators probe the Cuomo's administration's handling of nursing home deaths during the height of 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."