The Growing List Of Allegations Against Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Photo: David McGlynn / Shutterstock
Governor Andrew Cuomo

After three terms in office, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is now facing public allegations of sexual harassment from at least two of his former aides.

The claims of sexual harassment in the workplace made against Cuomo, 63, come as he is already under fire for the state’s response to Covid-19 in nursing homes. Federal prosecutors are investigating that matter, and there are state lawmakers considering dispossessing the governor of his power.

The latest scandal puts Governor Cuomo’s future in question, with many calling for his resignation. This marks the lowest point in Cuomo’s three years in office — and the situation only seems to be worsening.

What has Governor Andrew Cuomo been accused of?

The current talk of a formal investigation revolves specifically around allegations of sexual harassment made by two of Cuomo's former employees, but they are not only accusations that have been raised.

RELATED: Inside The Controversy At The Lincoln Project: Sexual Harassment, 'Toxic' Workplace Culture, And More

Allegations are still surfacing in accounts from both reliable news sources and social media.

Here's what we know so far about the women who have come forward with their stories of sexual misconduct on the part of Governor Cuomo.

1. Lindsay Boylan, former Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Special Advisor to the Governor

Allegation: Sexual harassment, including unwanted physical contact.

The latest scandal broke on February 24, when Lindsey Boylan, 36, published an article on Medium, accusing Cuomo of sexual harassment during her time working for the governor's administration.

Boylan, who is currently running for Manhattan borough president, worked for the state government from 2015 to 2018, a time period during which she says she endured a steady stream of uncomfortable interactions with the governor.

Boylan claims that while serving as the Chief of Staff at the state economic development agency, she was told by her boss that the governor had a crush on her. She felt Cuomo would often go “out of his way to touch [her] on [her] lower back, arms and legs,” and that she felt fearful around him.

On a flight back from an event held in Western New York in October of 2017, Boylan says Cuomo suggested they play strip poker.

And shortly after being promoted to Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Special Advisor to the Governor in 2018, she says he took her by surprise with an unwanted kiss on the mouth as she was leaving a one-on-one meeting in his Manhattan office.

“As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips,” she wrote. “I was in shock, but I kept walking.”

Boylan had first accused Cuomo publicly in December 2020 but did not offer specific details at the time.

2. Charlotte Bennett, former executive assistant and health policy adviser to Gov. Cuomo

Allegation: Sexual harassment

The same day Boylan published her story on Medium, Charlotte Bennett shared it on Twitter with a statement of solidarity as another of Cuomo's former aides.

Then on February 27, she shared her own experience in an article published in The New York Times.

Bennet, 25, claims Cuomo asked her about her sex life, including whether she'd ever had sex with older men. She also shared details of a conversation that occurred while the two were alone in his State Capitol office, during which Cuomo asked if she believed age made a difference in romantic relationships.

“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett said. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”

Bennett said she reported this to Cuomo’s chief of staff and was transferred to another job.

The day after Bennet came forward with her own allegations, Boylan publicly called on Cuomo to resign.

RELATED: The Full List Of 25 Women Accusing Donald Trump Of Sexual Assault — And The Details Of Each Claim

3. Beth Cefalu, a local news reporter

Allegation: None made by Cefalu herself, but others claimed sexual harassment on her behalf.

In the midst of brewing controversy around the accusations made by Boylan and Bennet, journalist Matt Bennet shared a video of Cuomo at the 2016 New York State Fair, saying he was, "just thinking back to that time NY Governor Andrew Cuomo hounded a local news reporter to 'eat the whole sausage'."

Not only should accusations of sexual harassment or other misconduct are not be taken likely, but it should remain the right of the alleged victim to choose whether or not to make such allegations at all.

For her part, Cefalu denies feeling harassed and asserted as much in a statement she shared on Twitter.

4. Anna Ruch, a fellow guest at a New York City wedding

Allegation: Sexual harassment

On March 1, the New York Times reported that Anna Ruch, 33, met Cuomo for the first and only time when both were guests at a September 2019 wedding reception in Manhattan. Although she was not an employee, her experience bears a striking similarity to those recounted by Boylan and Bennet.

Ruch claims that as the two were speaking, the governor put his hand on her "bare lower back," then told her she seemed "aggressive" when she removed it, only to then place his hands on her cheeks and ask if he could kiss her.

“I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed,” Ruch said. “I turned my head away and didn’t have words in that moment.”

RELATED: The Actual Definitions Of Sexual Abuse & Sexual Harassment For People Who Think The Rules Have Changed

Cuomo's Response to the Allegations

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The governor's office issued the following public statement after Boylan's article went viral on February 24: "As we said before, Ms. Boylan's claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false."

More specifically, in addressing the claim that he asked her to play strip poker during a flight, the governor said, "We were on each of these October flights and this conversation did not happen."

Saturday, February 27, 2021

In the wake of Bennett's public accusations, Cuomo issued a second statement. He began by saying that while Bennett "has every right to speak out," he firmly denied any wrongdoing on his part.

"I never made advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate. The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported."

"Although in no way required by law," the statement continued, "the Governor has requested an independent review and all staff will cooperate in that endeavor. Former Federal Judge Barbara Jones will lead the review."

Sunday, February 28, 2021

The day began with many prominent voices, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, raising concerns about Judge Jones's ability to remain Impartial due to a potential conflict of interest as a former colleague of Steven Cohen, a former Cuomo aide and close confidante.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

Cuomo's office first pivoted with a proposal to have State Attorney General Letitia "Tish" James and state Court of Appeals Judge Janet DiFiore jointly appoint the lead investigator.

"The Governor's Office wants a review of the sexual harassment claims made against the Governor to be done in a manner beyond reproach," wrote Special Counsel and Senior Advisor Beth Garvey, "We had selected former Federal Judge Barbara Jones, with a stellar record for qualifications and integrity, but we want to avoid even the perception of a lack of independence or inference of politics.

"Accordingly we have asked the Attorney General of New York State and the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals to jointly select an independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation to conduct a thorough review of the matter and issue a public report. The work product will be solely controlled by that independent lawyer personally selected by the Attorney General and Chief Judge."

“While I have deep respect for Chief Judge DiFiore, I am the duly elected attorney general and it is my responsibility to carry out this task, per executive law,” Attorney General James said. “The governor must provide this referral so an independent investigation with subpoena power can be conducted.”

This option was also met with skepticism due to DiFiore's status as a Cuomo appointee to the court. Cuomo's office relented later that day, granting James full control over the inquiry.

Soon after, Cuomo issued another statement of his own, this time seeming to take on a more self-reflective tone.

"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," his statement said.

"To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable," Cuomo continued, "but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to. That's why I have asked for an outside, independent review that looks at these allegations."

RELATED: The Sad Lesson Sexual Harassment Taught Me About Privilege

What about the nursing homes?

Governor Cuomo is also facing serious allegations that his administration has been withholding information about the number of deaths in nursing homes related to Covid-19.

The controversy came to light earlier this month when one of his top aides, Melissa DeRosa, admitted to withholding data in what she'd believed was a private conference call.

Mayor de Blasio has demanded independent investigations into both the nursing home deaths and sexual harassment allegations.

“New Yorkers have seen detailed, documented accounts of sexual harassment, multiple instances of intimidation, and the admitted withholding of information on the deaths of over 15,000 people,” Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said in a statement he shared on Twitter.

“Questions of this magnitude cannot hang over the heads of New Yorkers as we fight off a pandemic and economic crisis,” he said. “It’s clear what must now take place.”

As new details and allegations continue to emerge and the investigations deepen, Cuomo’s future as Governor of New York hangs in the balance.

RELATED: The Full List Of Bill Clinton Sexual Misconduct Allegations By 12 Different Women

Tomás Diniz Santos is a writer living in Orlando, Florida. He covers news, entertainment, and pop-culture.