Cuomo hires Woody Allen lawyer as NY attorney general moves forward with investigation into sexual harassment allegations

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Jake Lahut
·4 min read
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cuomo attorney abramowitz sexual harassment 2x1
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and former federal prosecutor Elkan Abramowitz. Seth Wenig, Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is lawyering up as he faces dueling scandals.

  • His administration hired criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor Elkan Abramowitz.

  • Abramowitz will handle investigations into COVID nursing home deaths, a Cuomo official told Insider.

  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration has hired a criminal defense attorney to take point on one of the dueling scandals facing the high profile Democrat.

Cuomo tapped Elkan Abramowitz, a longtime attorney for director Woody Allen and former federal prosecutor to handle a federal investigation looking into COVID-19 nursing home deaths, the Wall Street Journal first reported on Monday.

A Cuomo official told Insider that Abramowitz is only working on the nursing homes issue, not recent allegations of sexual harassment against the governor. The attorney has also worked with the New York executive chamber before.

"He is representing the executive chamber in the DOJ matter," Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi wrote to Insider in an email.

Representing Allen, Abramowitz has experience defending against allegations of sexual misconduct. He has not been afraid to embrace aggressive tactics to defend his clients, once calling Allen's adopted daughter a "pawn" being used by her mother, Mia Farrow, to smear the filmmaker with allegations of sexual abuse.

New York Attorney General Tish James also announced on Monday that she is moving ahead with her independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against the governor.

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Lawmaker calls for an independent investigation increased on Sunday when the New York Times reported on a second former Cuomo aide detailing several instances of alleged sexual harassment, which she said took place during her time working with him in the Albany capitol during the spring of 2020. The accuser, Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo asked her about her sex life, including whether she would be interested in sleeping with older men and if she had been romantically involved with any other staffers.

Around a week before Bennett came forward, former Cuomo special adviser Lindsey Boylan elaborated on allegations she previously made in a December Twitter thread. In her new Medium essay, Boylan recounted receiving an unwanted kiss on the lips from Cuomo, and said he asked her to play strip poker while on a government plane.

A Cuomo spokeswoman told Insider last week that Boylan's allegations "are quite simply false."

Cuomo apologized over his behavior in a third press release sent out Sunday night after the Bennett story broke.

"I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business," Cuomo wrote.

"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," he added. "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."

Cuomo's office did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment for this story. A Cuomo spokesman referred the Journal to Abramowitz, who confirmed he was retained by the administration.

Abramowitz has specialized in white collar criminal defense since leaving the public sector, where he served as the Chief of the Criminal Division in the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and in a variety of capacities for the New York City government.

In his private practice, Abramowitz has defended Allen against allegations of sexual abuse by his daughter, Dylan, who was the subject of a recent HBO documentary on her father's alleged abuse.

Abramowitz once said on NBC's "Today" show that Dylan was coached by her mother, Mia Farrow, in an effort to smear his client.

"She was a pawn in a huge fight between him and Mia Farrow years ago, and the idea that she was molested was implanted in her by her mother, and that memory is never going to go away," Abramowitz said, according to Time Magazine.

The lawyer added: "In my view she's not lying; I think she truly believes this happened. That's what the vice of this is. When you implant a story in a fragile seven-year old's mind, it stays there forever, it never goes away."

Read the original article on Business Insider