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Politics and Government

Sixth woman accuses Cuomo of inappropriate behavior

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A sixth woman has come forward and accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of misconduct. The Albany Times Union reported Tuesday that the woman said Cuomo inappropriately touched her when she was summoned to the executive mansion for a work assignment.

Cuomo, on a late afternoon conference call with reporters over one hour after the latest allegations were published Tuesday, said he had not heard about them.

“I’m not aware of any other claim,” Cuomo said.

The paper reported that the governor’s office was made aware of the new allegations on Monday. And Cuomo repeated a denial first made over a week ago, saying he never inappropriately touched anyone.

"As I said last week, this is very simple. I never touched anyone inappropriately,” Cuomo said. “I never made any inappropriate advances. As I said last week, no one ever told me at the time that I made them feel uncomfortable."

The new accusation comes after two former aides accused the governor of sexual harassment, and two other women say he inappropriately touched them. The state’s Attorney General, Letitia James, has launched an investigation into the charges. It’s led by former acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Joon Kim, and employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark. They have the power to issue subpoenas and conduct sworn depositions.

Cuomo said he will “respect” that investigation and wants everyone to withhold judgement until all of the facts are gathered.

State Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has called on Cuomo to resign, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has urged the governor to think about stepping down. Cuomo said Sunday that he has no plans to resign.

On Tuesday, for the second day in a row, he kept up the appearance of conducting business as usual, visiting a state-run vaccination site in Syracuse. In an event closed to the media, he announced that New Yorkers aged 60 and over will be eligible to receive the vaccine as of 8 a.m. Wednesday, and all public employees who deal directly with people will also be eligible, beginning Wednesday, March 17.

“Not for profit, public facing emergency employees and employees who are providing necessary services like the YWCA, they will also be available. Essential public workers will also be available,” Cuomo said. “These are the people who are the everyday heroes who are out there doing their job.”

The sexual harassment accusations, along with a federal investigation into the number of nursing home deaths from COVID-19 during the pandemic, are taking a political toll. Cuomo was asked in the conference call whether he will seek a fourth term in office. The governor, who in the past has said he planned to run again in 2022, did not directly answer.

“Today’s not a day for politics,” said Cuomo. “I’m focusing on my job.”

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who is next in line should Cuomo leave before his term is over, broke over a week of silence with a brief written statement. In it, she said that she’s “confident” that the investigation by the Attorney General will ensure that “everyone’s voice will be heard and taken seriously,” and she said she trusts that the probe will be completed as “thoroughly and expeditiously as possible,” and that New Yorkers will “soon learn the facts.”