New allegations of sexual harassment by a second former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sparked an almost immediate backlash, including bipartisan calls for his resignation.
Charlotte Bennett, age 25, who was an executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration until she left her post this past November, said the governor asked her during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic if she had ever had sex with older men, and whether she was monogamous.
Bennett made her statements in a series of interviews with The New York Times.
The new allegations come after former Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan, In a lengthy blog post released on Wednesday, Feb 24, outlined a series of sexual harassment claims, including an allegation that the 63-year-old Cuomo kissed her "on the lips” without warning in his Manhattan office.
State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, who represents parts of Westchester and the Bronx, became one of the first elected Democrats in the state to call for Cuomo to resign, citing "a clear pattern of abuse and manipulation," and saying "that pattern makes him unworthy of holding the highest office in New York.
"As a New Yorker, a legislator, Chair of the Senate Ethics and Internal Governance Committee, and a survivor of sexual abuse, I am calling for Governor Cuomo to resign," said Biaggi, the granddaughter of longtime former Congressman, the late Mario Biaggi.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said she supports an outside probe.
"Everyone deserves to have their voice heard and taken seriously," Hochul said in a statement issued Saturday night, Feb. 27, just after the new allegations were published. "I support an independent review."
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, the Republican candidate against Cuomo in the 2018 election, said the allegations represent "a disturbing pattern of behavior."
"We start by believing these courageous women," he added. "There must be a serious, independent investigation, victims heard, truth sought and justice served.
"If true, the governor is not fit to serve. He must resign or be removed from office."
A group of Republican state senators, including Sue Serino of the Hudson Valley, called on New York Attorney General Letitia James to appoint a special prosecutor to review all of these recent allegations.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) quickly released a statement saying that "the continued allegations are deeply disturbing and concerning.
"The behavior described has no place in the workplace. A truly independent investigation must begin immediately.”
State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt said that "the latest allegations about Gov. Cuomo’s conduct are incredibly disturbing.
"The review suggested by someone handpicked by the governor himself, is an outrageous, completely unacceptable idea. We need a truly independent investigation, which is why I continue to support the calls of my colleagues for a special prosecutor appointed by the attorney general.
"I will be convening members of the Senate Republican Conference tomorrow morning to discuss these egregious allegations and any next steps that our conference must take."
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