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Sixth woman accuses Cuomo of misconduct

Andrew Cuomo / Facebook
Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a COVID-19 briefing in Syracuse Tuesday.

A sixth woman has come forward and accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of misconduct. The Albany Times Union reports that the woman says 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 said he had not heard about them.

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

The paper reports that the governor’s office was made aware of the new allegations on Monday.

And he 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, Tish 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 says he will “respect” that investigation and wants everyone to withhold judgement  until all of the facts are gathered.

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

On Tuesday, for the second day in 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 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.”

Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News File Photo
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul broke a week of silence over the allegations against Cuomo.

The sexual harassment accusations, along with a federal investigation into the number of nursing home deaths 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.”

Lt. Gov. 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 says she trusts that the probe will be completed as  “thoroughly and expeditiously as possible” and that New Yorkers will “soon learn the facts.”  

Bob Duffy, the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce president and CEO who was lieutenant governor for one term in 2011-2014, issued a statement about the allegations against his former colleague on Tuesday. A Chamber spokesperson said Duffy and the Chamber office have been “inundated” with calls for comment about the recent allegations against Cuomo.

“Those coming forward deserve to be heard and to have their allegations be thoroughly and independently investigated," said Duffy in the statement. "I have confidence that the Attorney General’s office and designated attorneys will do just that.”

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.
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