Accuser discusses Cuomo’s fixation on his ‘large’ hands in meeting with AG team, lawyer says

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Denis Slattery and Chris Sommerfeldt, New York Daily News
·4 min read
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NEW YORK — One of the women accusing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of harassment told State Attorney General Letitia James’ investigators on Monday that the governor often boasted to her about “his hand size” in an off-color attempt at sexual innuendo, according to a lawyer representing the former aide.

Charlotte Bennett, who has alleged Cuomo subjected her to inappropriate comments about her sex life while she worked as a health policy adviser in his administration, divulged the eyebrow-raising detail about the governor’s hands while meeting for the first time with James’ investigators over Zoom for an interview that lasted more than four hours, attorney Debra Katz said in a statement.

“One piece of new information that came to light today was the Governor’s preoccupation with his hand size and what the large size of his hands indicated to Charlotte and other members of his staff,” Katz said.

A spokesman for Cuomo did not return a request for comment.

Katz said Bennett also turned over more than 120 pages of “contemporaneous records” and other evidence to the AG’s team, which is independently investigating a string of sexual harassment accusations against Cuomo.

James’ probe is being handled by former federal Manhattan prosecutor Joon Kim and employment discrimination lawyer Anne Clark.

“The investigators have been moving quickly, and with sensitivity, to get to the heart of these allegations,” Katz said. “We remain confident that their investigation will substantiate Charlotte’s claims of sexual harassment against Gov. Cuomo, as well as the failure of his senior staff to meet their mandatory reporting requirements under the very laws he signed.”

The previously unknown detail about Cuomo’s hand-size boasts adds to Bennett’s claims that the 63-year-old governor frequently made suggestive remarks while she worked for him, like asking if she had ever been romantically involved with an older man.

Bennett, 25, is among seven women who have accused Cuomo of a range of inappropriate comments, behavior or harassment.

The most serious allegation comes from an unidentified woman who says the governor groped her under her blouse after summoning her to the Executive Mansion in Albany on the auspice that he needed help configuring a new cellphone.

Lindsey Boylan, a former economic adviser to Cuomo who is currently running for Manhattan borough president, also alleges that the governor’s behavior went beyond verbal harassment, saying he once forcibly kissed her on the lips in his Manhattan office.

Bennett is confident there are more women who have been victimized by Cuomo, according to Katz.

“We urge others who have been subjected to inappropriate conduct by the Governor — and we know you are out there — to come forward with what you experienced,” Katz said. “And to those who observed the behavior, we urge you to do the same.”

Cuomo vehemently denies ever inappropriately touching anyone, but that hasn’t stopped dozens of Democrats in the state Legislature from calling on him to resign. Nearly every Democrat in the New York congressional delegation, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, has also called on Cuomo to step down.

Still, the embattled governor said as recently as Friday that he won’t resign under any circumstance, effectively daring Democrats in the state Legislature to impeach him.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, who announced an impeachment investigation of Cuomo last week, told reporters at the State Capitol in Albany on Monday that, much like James’ independent review, his chamber will be hiring an outside law firm to help with its probe.

An announcement on the outside counsel will come “sometime this week,” Heastie said.

“It should be done expeditiously,” Heastie said before declining to put an exact timeline on the impeachment inquiry.

“I think to say you have to come back with a decision in a week or two weeks or a month would be unfair to the process of an investigation,” he said.

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The impeachment probe, which will have subpoena power, will be “very broad” and go beyond just the sexual harassment allegations, Heastie said, likely a reference to the twin scandal Cuomo faces over his administration’s handling of coronavirus deaths in state nursing homes.

Heastie urged patience, for the public and his own members, as the multi-tiered probe plays out.

“There are some members who want an immediate impeachment,” he said.” I’d say the overwhelming majority believes in due process and that’s why we’re moving forward with an impeachment investigation.”

The pleas for cool heads are not shared by some of Heastie’s fellow Democrats.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a longtime advocate for victims of sexual assault, said the continued toll of the coronavirus pandemic adds a layer of urgency to the calls for Cuomo’s ouster.

“The governor has to resign,” Gillibrand told reporters at her Midtown office on Sunday. “Focused leadership is needed right now.”

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