NYC mayor suggests Cuomo should resign over ‘terrifying’ sexual harassment claims

‘If that was what truly happened it was like he was treating her like she was his property ... just disgusting, creepy’

Justin Vallejo
New York
Monday 01 March 2021 19:59 GMT
New York Mayor says Cuomo should resign if allegations proven true
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The mayor of New York City said Andrew Cuomo "should no longer be in public service" if an independent investigation reveals the governor sexually harassed two former staffers.

Asked at his daily press conference if Mr Cuomo should resign as governor of New York over the allegations, Bill de Blasio said his accusers Charlotte Bennett, 25, and Lindsay Boylan, 36, were in a position of vulnerability when working for him.

"When anybody, particularly an older man trying to take advantage of a younger woman, does something that makes that woman feel if she doesn't consent to what the man wants she may not keep her job, these are horrible horrible things that are unacceptable in our society," Mr de Blasio said.

"Full investigation. We've got to understand what happened here. Anything like that, if someone purposefully tried to use their power to force a woman to have sex with them? Of course, that's someone who should no longer be in public service."

Ms Bennett on Saturday told The New York Times that Mr Cuomo asked about her sex life and if she ever had sex with older men. It came days after Ms Boylan claimed Mr Cuomo made inappropriate comments about her appearance and tried to kiss her.

The Independent has reached out to the office of Mr Cuomo for comment. He has previously denied the allegations from Ms Boylan.

After Ms Bennett became the second staffer to speak out about her experiences working for the governor, he issued a statement saying he had been misunderstood.

"At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good-natured way. I do it in public and in private," Mr Cuomo said.

He added: "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. 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."

Asked what he thought about the apology, Mr de Blasio said there was nothing funny about the allegations being levelled at the governor.

"That's not an apology. He seemed to be saying I was just kidding around. Sexual harassment's not funny. It's serious. It has to be taken seriously. And he just clearly was letting himself off the hook for something that for the women involved, sounded pretty terrifying," Mr de Blasio said.

"We need a full investigation. We need the whole truth of what happened. We need to make sure it never happens again and we need to look at the nursing home issue. We cannot just look at one or the other - we need a full investigation into the nursing home issue, where thousands of people died."

The Cuomo administration is also facing scrutiny over its handling of nursing home death data during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, with Democratic assemblyman Ron Kim alleging that Mr Cuomo threatened political retribution if he did not "cover-up" for his health department. State lawmakers heard the state delayed sharing the nursing home death toll over concerns about a Justice Department probe.

The governor is also facing claims that a journalist quit her job in the Albany News10 ABC over being "bullied" for five years.

Lindsay Neilsen said she quit after realising the "accusatory phone calls" from his office were never going to stop.

In an interview with local radio Hot 97, Mr De Blasio said the allegations have "sickened" him.

"The thought of a powerful man trying to take advantage of his power, intimidate a young woman and just the sense that he was treating her like — again these are allegations and we need a full investigation — but if that was what truly happened it was like he was treating her like she was his property," Mr de Blasio said.

"Just disgusting, creepy."

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