A second former aide has come forward with sexual harassment allegations against New York governor Andrew Cuomo, with the Democrat responding by saying he never made advances toward her and never intended to be inappropriate.
Charlotte Bennett, a health policy adviser in Mr Cuomo’s administration until November, told The New York Times that the governor asked her inappropriate questions about her sex life including whether she had ever had sex with older men.
Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, a former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor, recently accused Mr Cuomo of subjecting her to an unwanted kiss and inappropriate comments. Mr Cuomo denied the allegations.
The governor said in a statement that Ms Bennett was a “hardworking and valued member of our team during Covid-19” and that “she has every right to speak out”.
He said he had intended to be a mentor for the 25-year-old.
“I never made advances toward Ms Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate,” Mr Cuomo’s statement said.
“The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported.”
Mr Cuomo, however, said he had authorised an outside review of Ms Bennett’s allegations.
The governor’s special counsel, Beth Garvey, said that review would be conducted by a former federal judge, Barbara Jones.
“I ask all New Yorkers to await the findings of the review so that they know the facts before making any judgements,” Mr Cuomo said, adding he would have no further comment until the probe is over.
The pair of harassment allegations represent a deepening crisis for Cuomo, who just months ago was at the height of his popularity for his leadership during the height of the coronavirus pandemic last spring.
In recent weeks, he has been assailed, even by some fellow Democrats, over revelations that his administration had substantially underreported coronavirus deaths in nursing homes.