One of the women accusing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment is calling on “bystanders” to activate and “say something,” amid a statewide investigation into the allegations leveled against him.
Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo staffer and the first to go public with her allegations against him, on Friday pointed to “bystanders,” saying they can “do better.
“I went to bed & woke up thinking about all the bystanders that make abuse possible,” Boylan tweeted. “They watch it happen. They look away. They validate the abuser with support.”
“We cannot change the past but we can heal & create a better future,” she continued. “There are no bystanders in that better future.”
Boylan then called on those bystanders directly.
“Bystanders: you can be activated,” she said. “You can do better. You can help make it right and end the abuse. End the abuse now.”
She added: “Say something. Do something.”
Cuomo is facing mounting calls for his resignation, an independent investigation and a move to rescind his emergency coronavirus powers amid dueling scandals over allegations of improper behavior toward women and his handling of the nursing home crisis during the pandemic.
The focus on the Democratic governor comes as CNN has given the sexual harassment accusations against Cuomo more attention over the past two weeks, but initially, the liberal network and the governor’s brother, anchor Chris Cuomo, gave the controversies little to no airtime. Previously, the network gave Chris Cuomo free rein to conduct friendly, comical interviews with the governor, who wrote a book about successfully handling the pandemic in the middle of the pandemic.
Boylan last week published a blog post accusing the governor of unwanted kissing and touching and inappropriate comments.
She claimed Cuomo went “out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs,” kissing her while they were alone in his office, and suggesting that they “play strip poker” during a plane ride.
Cuomo’s office has denied Boylan’s harassment claims, calling them “simply false” and insisting the strip poker comment “did not happen.”
Over the weekend, former Cuomo adviser Charlotte Bennett also came forward, claiming the governor asked her questions about her sex life, whether she was monogamous in her relationships and if she had ever had sex with older men.
The 25-year-old staffer described to The New York Times an incident that allegedly took place in June when she was “alone” with the 63-year-old governor in his State Capitol office. According to the report, he allegedly asked her if she thought age made a difference in romantic relationships and that he was open to having relationships with women in their 20s, which were noted by The Times as “comments she interpreted as clear overtures to a sexual relationship.”
In response to the allegations, Cuomo told the Times that he “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.”
And a third woman with no professional ties to the governor, Anna Ruch, accused Cuomo of making unwanted advances, touching her exposed lower back and asking to kiss her.
Boylan’s latest comments come after Bennett sat down for an interview with CBS News, which aired Thursday night, saying she believed Cuomo propositioned her for sex during a workplace meeting.
“Without explicitly saying it, he implied to me that I was old enough for him and he was lonely,” the 25-year-old former Cuomo aide told Norah O’Donnell of “CBS Evening News“.
Bennett has alleged that the governor called her into his office on June 5 and told her he was lonely and looking for a girlfriend.
In parts of the interview, she reiterated claims she made when she came forward with her accusations to The New York Times earlier in the week. She accused the governor of asking her if the age difference mattered and said he told her he was “fine” with anyone over 22 years old. Bennett is 25. The incident allegedly happened over the summer.
“I thought, he’s trying to sleep with me, the governor is trying to sleep with me,” she told O’Donnell. “And I am deeply uncomfortable, and I have to get out of this room as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, during a news conference Wednesday — his first since three women came forward with allegations against him — Cuomo apologized, denied knowing that he was acting inappropriately and said he has “learned an important lesson.”
But Bennett slammed Cuomo’s response, saying it was “not an apology.”
“It’s not an issue of my feelings. It’s an issue of his actions,” Bennett told CBS News. “The fact is he was sexually harassing me and he has not apologized for sexually harassing me. And he can’t even use my name.”
On Sunday, Cuomo had said in a statement that while at work he likes to “make jokes that I think are funny” and has “teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married.” The governor claimed that he did not mean to offend anyone but recognized that he now sees “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.”
Cuomo added: “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.”
Since the women came forward, New York Attorney General Letitia James began an independent investigation into the allegations.
On Monday, she received the “authority” from the New York executive branch to begin the probe.
“This is not a responsibility we take lightly as allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously,” James said.
Meanwhile, Cuomo on Monday afternoon retained a white-collar criminal defense attorney Elkan Abramowitz amid the investigations into the allegations of sexual harassment and into the governor’s coronavirus policy, according to The Wall Street Journal. Thousands of COVID-19 deaths occurred in nursing homes in the state.