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Cuomo calls for independent review after second former aide accuses him of sexual harassment

Charlotte Bennett, 25, is the second female aide to claim the N.Y. governor sexually harassed her.
Image: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks before the opening of a mass Covid-19 vaccination site in Queens on Feb. 24, 2021.Seth Wenig / Pool via AFP - Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday called for an independent review of allegations by a former aide that he sexually harassed her on the job. He denied the accusations, and said all of his staff would cooperate with the review, to be conducted by a retired federal judge that his office chose.

The aide, Charlotte Bennett, is the second to come forward since December to make such allegations. The New York Times reported her allegations Saturday, writing that Bennett, 25, said he made overtures about having a sexual relationship with her.

The Times reported that Bennett — a former executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration — said Cuomo asked her about her sex life and whether she had slept with older men.

Cuomo, 63, issued a statement Saturday evening in which he denied treating her that way.

"When she came to me and opened up about being a sexual assault survivor and how it shaped her and her ongoing efforts to create an organization that empowered her voice to help other survivors, I tried to be supportive and helpful," he said.

He added, "Ms. Bennett's initial impression was right: I was trying to be a mentor to her. I never made advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate."

Cuomo called for "a full and thorough outside review."

"This situation cannot and should not be resolved in the press," he said.

Beth Garvey, special counsel and senior advisor to Cuomo, said in the same statement that former federal Judge Barbara Jones would lead an independent review, and that all the governor's staffers have been ordered to cooperate.

Calls for such an investigation grew louder in Albany among Cuomo's fellow Democrats.

Garvey said Bennett, who left the office in November, had requested a job transfer and did not mention the allegations during an exit interview.

Bennett suggested to the Times that she was transferred days after she disclosed the alleged harassment to Cuomo's chief of staff, Jill DesRosiers.

Bennett and DesRosiers did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday.

Bennett's allegations follow those of Lindsey Boylan, a deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor from 2015 to 2018, who tweeted in December that Cuomo "sexually harassed me for years."

Boylan followed up the tweet with a more detailed account, including an unwanted kiss from Cuomo.

Cuomo spokesperson Caitlin Girouard said in a statement to NBC New York at the time, "There is simply no truth to these claims."