At least two women who accused Cuomo of misbehavior said he summoned them to help navigate his iPhone

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

  • Andrew Cuomo would invite younger women on his staff to help with tech snafus, a new report says.
  • Two accusers were summoned over his iPhone’s Notes app, according to the Albany Times Union.
  • People who have worked with Cuomo told the outlet that younger women were also asked to perform “minimal clerical duties” like dictation.
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo exhibited a pattern of asking younger women on his staff to assist him with minor tech issues, according to a new report from the Albany Times Union published Monday.

Jessica Westerman, the attorney for former Cuomo staffer Charlotte Bennett, told the Times Union that the governor called the 25-year-old into his office to help him navigate between his iPhone’s settings and Notes apps, which are normally clearly displayed on the device’s home screen.

This came a day after Cuomo reportedly quizzed Bennett on her sex life, including whether she would be open to sleeping with an older man.

Cuomo’s sixth accuser, a current staffer who is so far unnamed, was summoned to Cuomo’s private residence for a similar issue with his Notes app, according to a person briefed on her complaint who spoke with the Times Union on the condition of anonymity.

Senior Cuomo aides, however, told the Times Union that the governor is “notorious for his lack of technical proficiency – and that for years he has sought help from subordinates with his smartphones, computers and software.”

The governor had a penchant for hiring “attractive young women” who mostly performed “minimal clerical duties,” including dictation, and were “often given assignments that require one-on-one encounters with him,” according to several people who have worked with Cuomo and were interviewed for the Times Union story.

Accounts of Cuomo’s toxic workplace culture have grown as multiple scandals subsume his administration.

Women who worked for the governor have described feeling pressure to be well dressed whenever he was around, particularly by wearing high heels and makeup.

Cuomo continues to refuse to resign, despite most of New York’s congressional delegation, including its two senators, calling for him to step down.

A new poll released by Siena College on Monday showed Cuomo holding on to his base of support, with 61% approval among Black voters and half of those polled saying he should remain at his post. Just 35% of New Yorkers said he should resign.

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New York lawmakers are calling for an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo

andrew cuomo leak
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

  • Top New York lawmakers have come out in favor of an independent investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
  • Two former staffers have publicly alleged they were sexually harassed by the New York governor.
  • Cuomo’s office said there would be an investigation, but critics worry his pick to conduct one will not be impartial.  
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

State and federal lawmakers are coming out in support of an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

In December, a former aide said she had been sexually harassed by the governor “for years.” At the time, Lindsey Boylan, who worked for the governor between 2015 and 2018, did not divulge specific information about the circumstances and declined to speak to journalists. 

But last week, Boylan broke her silence in a Medium post, said Cuomo had touched her inappropriately and kissed her without her consent

Cuomo’s office has repeatedly denied her claims. “As we said before, Ms. Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” press secretary Caitlin Girouard said in a statement.

The New York Times on Saturday published the account of a second former aide who said Cuomo made unwanted sexual advances toward her multiple times. 

“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Charlotte Bennett told the Times. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”

Cuomo’s office denied her claims and said the governor had always “tried to act as a mentor to Bennett.” His office also announced a “full and thorough outside review” into Bennett’s allegations.

Former federal judge Barbara Jones, who has close ties to a Cuomo advisor, has been tapped to carry out the investigation. Lawmakers are not convinced that her investigation will be fair and objective.

Instead, they’re calling for New York Attorney General Letitia James to determine the third party that conducts the investigation.

“The recent allegations of sexual harassment against Governor Cuomo are deeply troubling and deserve a thorough investigation,” said New York Rep. Jerry Nadler. “It must be transparent, impartial, and above all else, independent. As has become standard practice in the State of New York when allegations relate directly to the Executive, Governor Cuomo should refer the matter to the Attorney General, who should, in turn, appoint an independent investigator.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York also called for an independent investigation, saying in a tweet that Boylan and Bennett’s accounts “are extremely serious and painful to read.”

New York Rep. Antonio Delgado echoed those sentiments, saying Cuomo “should follow precedent by referring this matter to the Attorney General.”

“Breaking from past practices in the face of such serious allegations is not acceptable,” Delgado added.  

“The accused CANNOT appoint the investigator,” New York Rep. Kathleen Rice said. “PERIOD.”

Some state legislators are siding with the House dems as well. 

“I believe the Attorney General should make an appointment to ensure that it is a truly independent investigation,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie wrote on Twitter.

President Joe Biden on Saturday also indicated that he supports an independent probe into the allegations.

Cuomo’s office did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

James in a tweet Sunday morning said she stands “ready to oversee that investigation and make any appointments necessary” but awaits the governor’s call to initiate an investigation. 

“Given state law, this can only be accomplished through an official referral from the governor’s office and must include subpoena power,” James said. “I urge the governor to make this referral immediately.”

 

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A 2nd former aide has come forward to accuse Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment

andrew cuomo
New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on September 08, 2020 in New York City.

  • A former Cuomo aide alleged the governor sexually harassed her last spring.
  • Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo made sexual advances and asked her inappropriate questions.
  • The news comes days after another ex-Cuomo aide wrote a Medium essay detailing similar allegations.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A second former aide has come forward to allege that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed her, asking deeply personal questions about her sex life and making strange comments about her experience as a sexual assault survivor.

In an interview published Saturday, Charlotte Bennett, 25, told The New York Times that Cuomo had made unwanted sexual advances towards her in several different encounters last spring.

“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett told the Times. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”

The news comes just days after another former Cuomo aide, Lindsey Boylan, published a Medium essay alleging several years of sexual harassment at Cuomo’s hands, including an unwanted kiss on the lips. Cuomo has denied Boylan’s allegations.

Cuomo’s office provided Insider with a statement denying that the governor made advances toward Bennett and saying he hadn’t intended to act inappropriately during their conversations. Cuomo’s statement also called for a “full and thorough outside review” of Bennett’s allegations and urged New Yorkers to withhold judgment until its findings are made public.

“Ms. Bennett was a hardworking and valued member of our team during COVID. She has every right to speak out,” Cuomo’s statement said, adding that he had tried to act as a mentor to Bennett. “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.”

Cuomo continued: “The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported.”

Cuomo indoor dining mask
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Bennett said Cuomo responded strangely when she mentioned her experience as a sexual assault survivor

Bennett said the first disturbing incident involving Cuomo occurred on May 15 at the Capitol, when the governor asked her if she was romantically involved with other staff members. Later in the conversation, Bennett offhandedly mentioned her past as a sexual assault survivor and said that Cuomo had a bizarre reaction.

Bennett provided the Times with text messages she sent to a friend at the time about Cuomo’s remarks.

“The way he was repeating, ‘You were raped and abused and attacked and assaulted and betrayed,’ over and over again while looking me directly in the eyes was something out of a horror movie,” Bennett’s text said. “It was like he was testing me.”

Bennett told the Times another upsetting encounter occurred just weeks later, on June 5. On that occasion, she said Cuomo asked her personal questions about whether her romantic relationships were monogamous and if she had ever had sex with an older man.

Bennett said that Cuomo never touched her during these encounters but that she interpreted his comments as sexual advances.

The Times confirmed Bennett’s allegations with one of her friends, who was not identified, and Bennett’s mother, who she also told about the conversations.

Bennett said she told Cuomo’s chief of staff about the June 5 encounter just days later and gave a statement to a special counsel to the governor that same month. Bennett said she was then transferred to a new job, which she was happy with, and did not insist on an investigation because she “wanted to move on.”

A statement provided to Insider from Beth Garvey, special counsel and senior adviser to the governor, said Bennett’s allegations “were treated with sensitivity and respect and in accordance with applicable law and policy.”

Garvey said Bennett transferred to a job “in which she had expressed long-standing interest” and “expressed satisfaction and appreciation for the way in which it was handled.”

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