NEW YORK (AP) – A second former aide has brought sexual harassment allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who responded with a statement Saturday saying he never made advances toward her and was never meant to be inappropriate.
Charlotte Bennett, a health policy adviser in the Democratic governor’s administration through November, told The New York Times that Cuomo asked her inappropriate questions about her sex life, even if she had ever had sex with older men.
Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, former undersecretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor, recently indicted Cuomo subjecting her to an unwanted kiss and inappropriate comments. Cuomo denied the allegations.
Cuomo said in a statement Saturday that Bennett was a “hardworking and valued member of our team during COVID” and that he “has every right to speak.”
He said he intended to mentor Bennett, who is 25 years old.
“I never made any advances toward Ms. Bennett or intended to act in any way that was inappropriate,” Cuomo’s statement said. “The last thing I would have wanted was to make him feel any of the things that are being reported.”
Cuomo, however, said he had authorized an external review of Bennett’s allegations.
The governor’s special counsel, Beth Garvey, said the review would be handled by a former federal judge, Barbara Jones.
“I ask all New Yorkers to wait for the results of the review so that they know the facts before passing judgment,” Cuomo said. “I will have no further comment until the review is complete.”
Bennett told the Times that his most disturbing interaction with Cuomo occurred on June 5 when he was alone with him in his Albany office. She said Cuomo started asking her about her personal life, her thoughts on romantic relationships, even if age was a factor, and she said he was open to relationships with women in their 20s.
Bennett said he also sidestepped a question from Cuomo about hugs by saying he missed hugging his parents. Said Cuomo never touched her.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me and I felt terribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett told the Times. “And I was wondering how I was going to get out of there and I assumed it was the end of my job.”
Bennett said he informed Cuomo’s chief of staff, Jill DesRosiers, about the interaction less than a week later. She said they transferred her to another job on the opposite side of the Capitol. In late June, he said he also gave a statement to a special counsel for Cuomo.
Garvey acknowledged that the complaint had been made and that Bennett had been transferred as a result to a position in which she was already interested.
Bennett told the newspaper that he ultimately decided not to press the administration for further action. He said he liked his new job and “wanted to move on.”
The allegations did not result in any action taken against Cuomo at the time.
Jones, who will oversee the investigation, was appointed to the court by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1995. As a judge, she struck down a part of the Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal recognition of same-sex marriage in a ruling. later confirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States.
After retiring, he joined the law firm Bracewell LLP, where his work focuses on corporate compliance and investigations.
His refereeing work included a 2014 decision overturning Ray Rice’s suspension by the NFL for hitting her fiancé in an elevator in a videotaped attack.