Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office is conducting its own review of a female aide’s allegations that she was groped by the governor inside the Executive Mansion last year, a new report said.
The internal inquiry into the allegations lodged by the staffer, who is still employed by the governor’s office, is being handled by Cuomo’s senior aides, the Albany Times Union reported.
“We have our own inquiries ongoing,” a senior Cuomo aide told the newspaper.
“We have an obligation to investigate any claim of sexual harassment. And we … were directed to continue our own inquiry,” the aide said.
The woman’s accusations against Cuomo are already being investigated separately by state Attorney General Letitia James.
A lawyer for the accuser, who has not been identified and has not filed a formal complaint against Cuomo, blasted what he called the governor’s office “shadow investigation.”
“It’s absurd. Why would you be doing that?” the attorney told the Times Union.
“It’s not appropriate, and obviously we’re concerned with the ramifications and the effect on witnesses and the quest for the truth,” the lawyer said.
The attorney’s client recounted the alleged incident to at least one female supervisor in the Executive Chamber on March 3 after watching a news conference at which Cuomo claimed, “I never touched anyone inappropriately,” the Times Union has reported.
Cuomo has denied the allegations.
News of the internal investigation comes as Cuomo’s office has hired outside lawyers for Executive Chamber staffers amid the attorney general probe.
The lawyers would be made available to staffers in advance of and during potential questioning by the attorney general investigators, according to the Times Union.
A lawyer for another Cuomo accuser blasted the revelations.
“Running a ‘parallel review’ to identify potential witnesses and providing attorneys to coach and supervise witnesses who testify before the independent investigators is absolutely wrong,” said Debra Katz, who is representing Charlotte Bennett.
“At best, these actions will have a chilling effect on potential witnesses or accusers who want to come forward without fear of retaliation. At worst, this is a deliberate attempt by the Governor’s office to interfere with the Attorney General’s investigation,” Katz said.