State Watch

Cuomo accuser says governor did not take sexual harassment training

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.)
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Charlotte Bennett, a former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) who has accused him of sexual harassment, said the governor did not undergo sexual harassment training. 

In a new interview with CBS News that aired Friday, Bennett said another aide took the mandatory training for Cuomo. Bennett, 25, has accused Cuomo, 63, of asking her inappropriate questions about her sex life and saying he was opening to having relationships with women in their 20s, a remark she believes was an indication that he was open to a relationship with her.

“In 2019, he did not take the sexual harassment training,” Bennett said.

“I was there,” she added, when asked how she knew that information. “I heard [Cuomo Executive Secretary] Stephanie [Benton] say: ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this for you,’ and making a joke about the fact that she was completing the training for him, and then I heard her, at the end, ask him to sign the certificate.” 

The remarks contradict Cuomo’s claim this week that he did undergo the training himself.

“The short answer is yes,” he said at a press conference Wednesday when asked if he participated in the training.

Cuomo’s office said Benton “categorically denies this exchange” and that Bennett’s remarks are “not true.”

“Some state employees take an online course; for Executive Chamber Senior Staff, the training takes the form of personal review of documentation,” Beth Garvey, special counsel to the governor, said in a statement to The Hill. “The Governor did this review of the mandated material and completed the training.” 

The new claim comes amid a growing firestorm surrounding Cuomo after at least three women have accused him of sexual harassment.

Besides Bennett, Lindsey Boylan, another former Cuomo employee, has accused the governor of kissing her without her permission, and Anna Ruch, who met Cuomo at a wedding, said he made unwanted sexual advances.

Letitia James, New York’s Democratic attorney general, has opened up an independent investigation into the claims. Cuomo has committed to cooperating with the inquiry.

Cuomo is also facing fierce backlash over the revelation that his office undercounted the number of coronavirus deaths in New York nursing homes. As a result, state lawmakers voted to strip him of emergency powers that were granted to fight the pandemic.

Calls for Cuomo’s resignation from New York lawmakers have grown in past weeks, though the governor maintained he’d stay in office.

“Some politicians will always play politics. That’s the nature of the beast. I don’t think today is a day for politics. I wasn’t elected by politicians, I was elected by the people of the state of New York. I’m not going to resign,” Cuomo said at a press conference Wednesday. “I work for the people of the state of New York, they elected me, and I’m going to serve the people of the state of New York.”

Tags #MeToo Andrew Cuomo Andrew Cuomo New York COVID-19 nursing home scandal Sexual harassment

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