Two former staffers of Gov. Andrew Cuomo have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and abuses of power during their time working with the governor.
“Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected. His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right. He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences,” wrote former staffer Lindsey Boylan in a Medium post last week.
Boylan alleges that she was told by her boss that Gov. Cuomo had a “crush” on her. Soon after she experienced unwanted attention, inappropriate comments, and touching from the governor, including one incident where he kissed her on the lips without consent. Boylan resigned in September of 2018.
“I am speaking up because I have the privilege to do so when many others do not,” Boylan wrote. “No one should have to be defined or destroyed by this kind of sexual harassment. Nor should they be revictimized if they decide to speak their own truth.”
Former aide Charlotte Bennett allegedly experienced similar behavior during her time with the Cuomo administration. According to the New York Times, “she said the governor had asked her numerous questions about her personal life, including whether she thought age made a difference in romantic relationships, and had said that he was open to relationships with women in their 20s — comments she interpreted as clear overtures to a sexual relationship.”
Gov. Cuomo released a statement denying the allegations and stating that, “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. 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.”
Gov. Cuomo has agreed that an investigation into the harassment charges should take place, but received backlash from both Democrats and Republicans in the state government who say the governor should not be able to choose who investigates the claims.
Nancy Pelosi released a statement calling the allegations “credible” and joined the calls for an independent investigation saying, “The women who have come forward with serious and credible charges against Gov. Cuomo deserve to be heard and to be treated with dignity. The independent investigation must have due process and respect for everyone involved.”
Pelosi joins a growing number of lawmakers calling for an investigation into the governor’s behavior.