Governor Andrew Cuomo has addressed sexual harassment allegations, made against him by two women, on Sunday, February 28.
"I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended," Cuomo stated. "I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that."
This comes after Charlotte Bennett told the New York Times that the 63-year-old allegedly probed her about her sex life and, in one instance, apparently asked the 25-year-old former aid about her interest in older men and suggested that he was willing to date a woman as young as she was.
"I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared," Bennett said. "And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job."
Cuomo told the Times that he never made advances towards Bennett and saw himself as a mentor but told the outlet he had requested an independent review and asked that New Yorkers wait for the verdict "before making any judgments."
"Ms. Bennett was a hardworking and valued member of our team during COVID. She has every right to speak out," Cuomo said in his statement.
"When she came to me and opened up about being a sexual assault survivor and how it shaped her and her ongoing efforts to create an organization that empowered her voice to help other survivors, I tried to be supportive and helpful."
"Ms. Bennett's initial impression was right: I was trying to be a mentor to her. I never made advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate. The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported."
Bennett is the second woman to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment. Former aide Lindsay Boylan accused him of "pervasive harassment." Boylan recalled instances where Cuomo allegedly asked her to play "strip poker," made inappropriate comments, would "go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs" and in one instance allegedly kissed her on the lips when she got up to leave his office.
The Governor noted that the situation could not be resolved in the press and was open to an outside review and investigation.
Attorney General Letitia James is slated to control the inquiry, Associated Press reported. "This is not a responsibility we take lightly," James said.
Two of Cuomo’s initial proposals for the investigation were rejected. Cuomo reportedly first suggested that Barbara Jones review his behavior and then asked James and judge Janet DiFiore to jointly appoint a lawyer. James asked for a formal referral to give her office the authority to subpoena documents and witness testimony for "a rigorous and independent investigation."