ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo acknowledged in a statement late Sunday afternoon that some of the things he has said to women may have been “misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.”
Following a Saturday report from the New York Times that he allegedly sexually harassed a second woman, the governor, for the first time, said he now understands his actions “may have been insensitive or too personal” and some of his comments “made others feel in ways I never intended.”
The governor’s statement came on the heels of a second woman coming forward with allegations that he sexually harassed her.
Charlotte Bennett, a former executive assistant and health policy adviser to the governor, told the New York Times that while she worked in his office last year, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor allegedly repeatedly asked her about her sex life, if she had ever had sex with older men and if she was monogamous.
Ms. Bennett is the second woman to come forward with such allegations.
Last week, Lindsey Boylan, also a former aide to the governor who is now running for Manhattan borough president, came forward with a detailed account that the governor allegedly sexually harassed her multiple times. She first brought her allegations forward publicly in December of last year via Twitter.
Ms. Boylan, in an essay she posted to Medium.com, detailed years of alleged “degrading,” “uncomfortable” and “insidious” harassment while she worked for Gov. Cuomo in Empire State Development and as a deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor.
She accused him of an unconsensual kiss in his Manhattan office, comments comparing her looks to those of another woman he was rumored to have dated, and unwanted touching of her lower back, arms and legs. She wrote that this all led to her September 2018 resignation.
In December 2020, Boylan said in a tweet that “@NYGovCuomo sexually harassed me for years. Many saw it, and watched.”
The governor previously denied the claims from both women prior to his statement Sunday. Here is the governor’s complete statement:
“Questions have been raised about some of my past interactions with people in the office.
“I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm. I spend most of my life at work and colleagues are often also personal friends.
“At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good natured way. I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.
“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.
“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.
“That’s why I have asked for an outside, independent review that looks at these allegations.
“Separately, my office has heard anecdotally that some people have reached out to Ms. Bennett to express displeasure about her coming forward. My message to anyone doing that is you have misjudged what matters to me and my administration and you should stop now — period.”
Times reporter Alex Gault and Adirondack Daily Enterprise reporter Aaron Cerbone contributed reporting to this article.