Accuser says talk of Cuomo as AG spurred her to come forward
NEW YORK (AP) — One of the women who accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexually harassing her at the workplace said she was motivated to come forward after another woman contacted her sharing similar allegations and following the Democratic governor’s name being mentioned as a potential cabinet position nominee for President Joe Biden.
Another accuser told a television interviewer Thursday that she felt she had no choice but to answer Cuomo’s questions about her sex life, feeling pressured because “my boss was asking these questions, so I was trying to answer them.”
Former Cuomo adviser Lindsey Boylan told Harper’s Bazaar in an article published Thursday that she woke up one day in December, and saw Cuomo “being floated for attorney general, the highest law enforcement position in the U.S.”
She had tweeted earlier about an abusive workplace environment in the administration, but after an unnamed woman reached out to her with a story of being harassed by Cuomo and seeing the possibility of him in the Biden administration being raised, she said, “I didn’t think about it at all. … I began tweeting about my experience.”
The 36-year-old Boylan worked for Cuomo’s team from March 2015 to October 2018 and recounted her story of sexual harassment in the series of Twitter posts.
Boylan elaborated on her accusations in a Feb. 24 Medium post in which she said Cuomo once suggested a game of strip poker and on another occasion kissed her without her consent.
Two additional women have made accusations against the 63-year-old Cuomo since then. Charlotte Bennett, 25, a former low-level aide, said Cuomo quizzed her about her sex life and told her he would consider dating “anyone above the age of 22.”
On Thursday’s edition of CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell, Bennett reiterated her account that she first told The New York Times.
“It didn’t feel like I had a choice” when it came to answering his questions, she said.
“I feel like people put the onus on the woman to shut that conversation down. And by answering, I was somehow engaging in that or enabling it, when in fact, I was just terrified,” Bennett said in her interview.
Anna Ruch, 33, told The New York Times that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her after meeting her at a September 2019 wedding.
Facing calls for his resignation, Cuomo said Wednesday he would remain in office but apologized for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable.” He said he would cooperate with an investigation headed by state Attorney General Letitia James, a fellow Democrat.
Boylan told the magazine that she has been in touch with Bennett but not Ruch, adding that Ruch’s story made her feel “nauseous.”
She said another factor in her own decision to name Cuomo as a sexual harasser was a Cicely Tyson interview she watched after Tyson’s death.
The pioneering actor cried telling the interviewer about an experience of sexual harassment 50 years earlier, Boylan recalled.
“I always thought that if I was ever going to tell my story, it was going to be many, many years from now,” Boylan said. “But the Tyson interview really resonated with me. It shows you how much abuse affects people.”
Cuomo, who is in his third term as governor, was believed to be a contender for attorney general before Biden selected federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, who has not yet been confirmed.