NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Charlotte Bennett, a former aide who accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, is refusing to accept his apology. She’s urging other women to come forward.
Not long after she made the request, another did.READ MORE: Gov. Cuomo Agrees To Attorney General James’ Demand For Legal Referral To Investigate Sexual Harassment Allegations
On Monday night there was a third allegation of sexual harassment by Cuomo, this time from someone who did not work for him. In fact, she had never met him before. She said it happened at a 2019 wedding reception, CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported.
The New York Times reported that 33-year-old Anna Ruch said first that Cuomo touched her bare lower back and she moved his hand away. She then said he placed his hands on her face and asked to kiss her. Ruch said she pulled away, but apparently not before Cuomo kissed her cheek.
The newest incident prompted Long Island Rep. Kathleen Rice to tweet a call for the governor’s resignation.
The time has come. The Governor must resign. https://t.co/GjcvuNfpfQ
— Kathleen Rice (@RepKathleenRice) March 2, 2021
Fellow accusers Bennett and Lindsey Boylan tweeted their support of Ruch.
I stand with Anna Ruch. Anna — I hear you, I see you. I’m so sorry. His inappropriate and aggressive behavior cannot be justified or normalized. Thank you for your courage and strength. Here for you always. https://t.co/EkxV05VPVX
— Charlotte Bennett (@_char_bennett_) March 2, 2021
This doesn’t make me feel validated. It makes me feel sick. I feel nauseous thinking about Anna’s experience. I am sending her love and light.
Charlotte and I are with you, Anna. https://t.co/0ZSfeQkPQv
— Lindsey Boylan (@LindseyBoylan) March 2, 2021
State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi worked in the governor’s office in 2017.
“When a governor of a state asks a young staffer who is 25 years old if she has sex with older men or if she has sex outside of her relationship, that is not only inappropriate, that is abusive,” Biaggi said.READ MORE: 2nd Former Aide Accuses Gov. Andrew Cuomo Of Sexual Harassment, Governor Requests Independent Review
Bennett’s statement on Monday came as the state’s attorney general moves ahead with an investigation into the claims, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
“As we know, abusers — particularly those with tremendous amounts of power — are often repeat offenders who engage in manipulative tactics to diminish allegations…” Bennett said in a written statement.
“These are not the actions of someone who simply feels misunderstood; they are the actions of an individual who wields his power to avoid justice,” she added.
Late Sunday, the governor issued a lengthy statement — an apology — saying that some of his actions may have been “insensitive or too personal.”
“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,” Cuomo said.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Letitia James received a formal letter of referral from the governor to appoint an independent investigator to probe sexual harassment allegations.
James started the process of finding someone to do the job, but it won’t be easy. She must find a law firm, or some members of a law firm, with no political ax to grind — people who haven’t made political contributions to the governor.
“It will take some time to appoint a firm,” a spokesperson told CBS2.
This comes as the normally talkative governor has refused to take questions from reporters for a week amid mounting pressure and charges of sexual harassment made by two former aides.
Bennett, a 25-year-old former executive assistant and health aide, accused the governor of asking inappropriate questions about her sex life, including whether she had ever been with an older man.
Boylan, who is running for Manhattan borough president, alleges that Cuomo kissed her and asked her to play strip poker in 2017.
“At work sometimes I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny… I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business,” the governor said in his statement.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the governor’s longtime frenemy, was quick to jump on the governor’s statement.
“That’s not an apology. He seemed to be saying, ‘Oh, I was just kidding around.’ You know, sexual harassment is not funny. It’s serious,” de Blasio said. “He just, clearly, was letting himself off the hook for something that, for the women involved, sounded pretty terrifying.”
A law signed by the governor required all state employees to take sexual harassment training by the end of 2019.
Presumably, the governor took the course. But his spokespeople did not get back to CBS2 to confirm he did.MORE NEWS: NYS Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins Calls Sexual Harassment Claims Against Gov. Andrew Cuomo ‘Extremely Disturbing’
CBS2’s Dick Brennan contributed to this report