A sixth woman has accused New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, according to a new report.
According to the Albany Times Union, a member of the executive chamber staff, whose name the paper withheld, says the governor inappropriately groped her last year at the Executive Mansion after she had been called to do work.
A staff member had been summoned to the mansion to assist the governor with a “minor technical issue involving his mobile phone” when the staffer found herself alone in the governor’s private residence on the second floor when he “closed the door and allegedly reached under her blouse and began to fondle her,” a source with direct knowledge of the allegation told the paper.
The source reportedly told the paper that the woman, who is much younger than the 63-year-old governor, told Cuomo to stop and that her “broader allegations include that he frequently engaged in flirtatious behavior with her, and that it was not the only time that he had touched her.”
Cuomo denied the allegations but called the story “gut-wrenching.”
The new accuser is the fifth Cuomo staffer to come forward to accuse the governor of sexual misconduct.
Lindsey Boylan, the former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to Cuomo, last month published an essay detailing alleged sexual harassment she endured while working for the governor, including unwanted kissing and touching.
She wrote in the essay that Cuomo, with the help of top female aides, “created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected.”
Boylan recounted a flight she shared with the governor from an event in October 2017 in which Cuomo allegedly said, “Let’s play strip poker.”
On another occasion, Boylan says the pair met one-on-one for a briefing when Cuomo allegedly kissed her.
Days later, former health-policy adviser Charlotte Bennett alleged that the governor harassed her in spring 2020, according to the New York Times. Bennett, 25, said Cuomo asked intrusive questions about her sex life, including an incident on June 5 during which the governor asked whether she was monogamous and if she had sex with older men.
Anna Ruch, a former Biden campaign worker who has not worked for Cuomo, later accused the governor of giving her an unwanted kiss on the cheek at a wedding in 2019. She said the action left her “confused and shocked and embarrassed.”
Former press aide Karen Hinton told the Washington Post last week that Cuomo, then head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, forced her into a “very long, too long, too tight, too intimate” embrace in a dimly lit Los Angeles hotel room in December 2000.
Meanwhile, Ana Liss, a policy and operations aide who worked for Cuomo from 2013 to 2015, told the Wall Street Journal the governor acted inappropriately with her as well, calling her “sweetheart” and asking if she had a boyfriend.
She detailed a May 2014 encounter with the governor in Albany’s executive mansion where she said the governor called her sweetheart, hugged her, kissed both of her cheeks, put his arm around her lower back and grabbed her waist as they turned to have their photo taken by a photographer.
“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,” Cuomo said in a statement after the first two accusers came forward. “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.”
He added: “To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to.”
New York attorney general Letitia James announced last week that her office had received a referral from the Cuomo administration allowing for an independent investigation of their harassment claims.
The sexual harassment allegations come as the New York governor is already embroiled in a scandal over his administration’s mishandling of nursing homes amid the coronavirus pandemic and the alleged attempt to coverup the number of deaths that occurred among the homes’ elderly residents that followed.
A number of New York lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have called on Cuomo to resign, though the governor has said there is “no way I resign,” saying the suggestion is “anti-Democratic.”