Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, already under increasingly intense scrutiny for his fatal mishandling of nursing homes during the COVID pandemic, has now been hit with several allegations of sexual harassment by multiple women.
On Monday, a third woman stepped forward to level accusations of inappropriate behavior by the governor, joining two of Cuomo’s former staffers who made their own allegations public just days earlier, The Hill reported.
The governor has denied any “intentional” wrongdoing, though he has acknowledged that his actions may have been “misconstrued.” Nevertheless, the office of state Attorney General Letitia James is preparing to “move forward” with an independent probe into the women’s claims.
On Monday, The New York Times reported on the allegations of misconduct levied by Anna Ruch, who says she was harassed and inappropriately touched by Cuomo when she met him at a friend’s wedding reception in 2019.
Ruch recalled how Cuomo had touched her exposed lower back, only for her to brush his hand away, at which point he accused her of being “aggressive,” placed his hands on her cheeks and asked if he could kiss her. She says she pulled away in disgust as he moved in to try and kiss her on the lips and, according to Ruch’s friend who caught the moment with a cellphone camera, managed to succeed in only kissing her on the cheek.
A third woman has accused Governor Cuomo of unwanted touching and sexual attention, saying he placed his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her at her friend’s wedding. A friend took a series of pictures of the incident as it occurred. https://t.co/bgvzBK4vK0 pic.twitter.com/hXvgTvSntQ
— Evan Hill (@evanchill) March 2, 2021
Two former staffers share allegations
The Times noted that the claim from Ruch followed that of Charlotte Bennett, a former aide who just days earlier had publicly alleged that Cuomo asked her deeply personal and sexually-related questions when she worked for him.
The allegations from Bennett followed allegations from former staffer Lindsey Boylan, who detailed in a post to Medium how Cuomo had made sexually suggestive remarks to her on multiple occasions and had allegedly kissed her on the lips without permission while alone in his office.
Both Boylan and Bennett have asserted their personal knowledge that there are other women who have been similarly victimized by Cuomo and encouraged those women to step forward and publicly share their accounts.
Cuomo denies allegations of wrongdoing
Gov. Cuomo’s office released a statement Sunday, prior to the allegation from Ruch, responding to the allegations.
“I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm,” Cuomo said, although he did admit to “being playful” and that he liked to “make jokes” and “tease” people in a way that “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,” Cuomo said, but 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.”