Talk of Andrew Cuomo as attorney general sparked accuser to come forward

5 March 2021, 02:24

Andrew Cuomo
Cuomo Sexual Harassment. Picture: PA

The governor of New York has refused calls to resign amid a number of sexual harassment claims.

One of the women who accused New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment said she was motivated to come forward after seeing the Democratic governor’s name mentioned as a potential cabinet position nominee for President Joe Biden.

Another accuser told a television interviewer on Thursday that she felt she had no choice but to answer Mr Cuomo’s questions about her sex life, feeling pressured because “my boss was asking these questions, so I was trying to answer them”.

A former adviser to Mr Cuomo, Lindsey Boylan, told Harper’s Bazaar in an article published on Thursday that she woke up one day in December and saw Mr Cuomo “being floated for attorney general, the highest law enforcement position in the US”.

She had tweeted earlier about an abusive workplace environment in the administration, but after an unnamed woman reached out to her with a story of being harassed by Mr Cuomo and seeing the possibility of him in the Biden administration being raised, she said: “I didn’t think about it at all … I began tweeting about my experience.”

Demonstrators call for Mr Cuomo’s resignation in front of his Manhattan office
Demonstrators call for Mr Cuomo’s resignation in front of his Manhattan office (Brittainy Newman/AP)

Ms Boylan, 36, worked for Mr Cuomo’s team from March 2015 to October 2018 and recounted her story of sexual harassment in the series of Twitter posts.

She elaborated on her accusations in a February 24 Medium post in which she said Mr Cuomo once suggested a game of strip poker and on another occasion kissed her without her consent.

Two additional women have made accusations against the Mr Cuomo since then. Charlotte Bennett, 25, a former low-level aide, said he quizzed her about her sex life and told her he would consider dating “anyone above the age of 22”.

On Thursday’s edition of CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell, Ms Bennett reiterated her account that she first told The New York Times.

“It didn’t feel like I had a choice” when it came to answering his questions, she said.

Andrew Cuomo
Mr Cuomo has refused calls to resign (Seth Wenig/AP)

“I feel like people put the onus on the woman to shut that conversation down. And by answering, I was somehow engaging in that or enabling it, when in fact, I was just terrified.”

Anna Ruch, 33, told The New York Times that Mr Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her after meeting her at a September 2019 wedding.

Facing calls for his resignation, Mr Cuomo said on Wednesday he would remain in office but apologised for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable”.

He said he would cooperate with an investigation headed by state attorney general Letitia James, a fellow Democrat.

Ms Boylan told the magazine that she has been in touch with Ms Bennett but not Ms Ruch, adding that Ms Ruch’s story made her feel “nauseous”.

Mr Cuomo, who is in his third term as governor, was believed to be a contender for attorney general before Mr Biden selected federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, who has not yet been confirmed.

By Press Association