Another allegation of sexual harassment has been made against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo by a former aide. This allegation comes from Charlotte Bennett, who worked as a health policy advisor and executive assistant for the governor until November last year. She alleges that Cuomo asked her questions about her sex life, asked her if he was monogamous in her relationships, and whether she had ever had sex with older men.
Bennett told the New York Times that the most disturbing incident took place on 5th June 2020, when she was alone with Cuomo in his state capitol office. In multiple interviews this week, she alleges that the Governor asked her invasive and suggestive questions about her private life, such as whether she would be open to relationships with older men. The governor also allegedly told Bennett that he’d be open to having a relationship with a woman in her 20s.
During the encounter, Cuomo also allegedly made inappropriate comments and asked an inappropriate and suggestive question about hugging. After complaining that he ‘can’t even hug anyone’ and that he was lonely because of the pandemic, Bennett alleges Cuomo asked her who she last hugged. Bennett says she tried to dodge the question by replying that she missed hugging her parents, but she recounts that Cuomo then said, “No, I mean like really hugged somebody?’’.
Bennett says Cuomo never touched her, though she did say she “understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared”. In response to the allegations, Cuomo told the New York Times that he had “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.” He also said that he believed he had acted as a mentor to Bennett, going on to say that “the last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported”.
Other allegations of sexual harassment came last week, when former aide Lindsey Boylan detailed sexual harassment she alleges she was subjected to by Cuomo, whilst working for him. Her allegations ranged from Cuomo giving her an unwanted kiss on the lips, to him asking her to play strip poker whilst on a ‘taxpayer-funded jet’. Boylan also alleges that Cuomo touched her inappropriately without her consent, and frequently made inappropriate comments about the appearance of her and other women.
Cuomo’s office has asked the state’s attorney general to appoint an independent investigator to examine the sexual harassment allegations.
Cuomo has also been under pressure due to allegations of bullying, and mounting criticism of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The allegations of bullying were made by fellow Democrat and member of the New York Assembly Ron Kim, and were called ‘classic Andrew Cuomo’ by New York Mayor Bill De Blasio. Criticism over Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic comes after it was revealed that the Governor, who was previously given an Emmy for his handling of the pandemic, withheld data about the number of deaths in nursing homes to make his administration look better than it is.