Cuomo administration criticized over internal sexual harassment probe

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Denis Slattery, New York Daily News
·2 min read
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ALBANY — A lawyer for one of the women accusing Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment is slamming the administration following reports of an internal probe into misconduct claims.

The in-house inquiry centers on allegations made by a current staffer who says Cuomo groped her last year, the Albany Times Union first reported.

“We have our own inquiries ongoing,” a senior Cuomo aide told the newspaper.

Cuomo’s conduct is already the subject of an independent review being overseen by Attorney General Letitia James’ office and an impeachment investigation in the State Assembly.

Debra Katz, an attorney representing another accuser, slammed the “parallel review,” saying it could have a “chilling effect on potential witnesses or accusers.”

“At worst, this is a deliberate attempt by the governor’s office to interfere with the attorney general’s investigation,” she added.

Katz is representing Charlotte Bennett, a 25-year-old former Cuomo aide who claims the governor asked her probing questions including whether she was monogamous in her relationships or if she ever had sex with older men.

Bennett, who said she believes the 63-year-old Democrat was trying to sleep with her, spoke Monday with outside lawyers hired by James.

She also turned over more than 120 pages of “contemporaneous records, as well as other examples of documentary evidence,” Katz said.

In response to Bennett’s allegations, Cuomo claimed earlier this month he didn’t know his behavior was “making anyone uncomfortable.” On Wednesday he decided that he would no longer comment on accusations.

Asked directly about the things Bennett claims he said to her, the governor clammed up.

“As I said, the Assembly has a review going on, on just the questions you asked, and questions like it, and I’m going to respect the review and I won’t comment on issues that are subject to the review,” he said during a call with reporters.

Multiple other women, including several former aides and advisers, have come forward with allegations against the governor.

They have detailed a toxic work environment under Cuomo in which women were belittled and objectified. Several of the accusers claim the governor repeatedly made comments about their looks, touched them in ways that made them uncomfortable and even kissed them without their consent.

Cuomo, facing growing calls for his resignation from critics as well as fellow Democrats, has denied ever touching anyone inappropriately.

Beth Garvey, the governor’s acting counsel, issued a statement to the Times Union late Wednesday defending the internal investigation.

“We fully informed the (attorney general’s) office of the required process with this type of allegation and they said to follow it,” she said. “The matter was referred to (the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations) and informed local law enforcement and that is the full extent of the action.”

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