New York governor accused of sexual harassment forced to accept independent investigation

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Calls for an independent investigation into the sexual harassment charges against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo escalated on Sunday, prompting the powerful Democrat to agree not to appoint himself who will be in charge of the investigations.

• Read also: Andrew Cuomo accused of sexual harassment by ex-counselor

• Read also: New York governor accused of sexual harassment by second woman

• Read also: Antipandemic hero in 2020, the governor of New York sees his star fade

Several personalities, including the young Democratic star of the Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or the Hawaii senator Mazie Hirono, estimated Sunday morning that the investigation into the actions of the governor should be carried out by the state attorney, Letitia James, and not by a former federal judge appointed by Mr. Cuomo himself on Saturday.

The prosecutor – many of whom think she could run for the post of governor in the next election scheduled for the end of 2022 – also intervened, to ask Mr. Cuomo – who must give her the authorization – to entrust her with the file ” at once”.

In a statement, a legal adviser to the governor said that the latter, in the power of the state for 10 years, agreed to go back – without however entrusting the investigation directly to James.

“We want to avoid even the impression of a lack of independence and political interference,” said Councilor Beth Garvey. “We therefore asked the state prosecutor and the chief judge of the appellate courts to jointly select an independent, private lawyer, without political affiliation.”

The governor’s office said it would “no longer comment until the report is submitted” of the investigation.

But Mr. Cuomo, 63, who was a star in 2020 for his management of the pandemic, now seems very fragile, and this concession may not be enough to calm things down.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday ruled the charges against him “extremely serious and difficult to read”.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki also called for “an independent review of the allegations.”

She recalled that President Joe Biden – who has known Mr. Cuomo for a long time – “believes that every woman should be listened to, should be treated with respect and dignity.”

Two women have accused the governor of sexual harassment in recent days, accusations he has formally denied.

One of his former economic advisers, Lindsey Boylan, 36, accused him in detail on a blog on Wednesday of having sexually harassed her when she worked for his administration, from 2015 to 2018.

She claimed that the governor had kissed her unsolicited on the mouth, suggested that she had played “strip poker” with him, and that he “made more efforts to [lui] touch the back, arms, legs ”.

On Saturday, it was 25-year-old former health adviser Charlotte Bennett who told the New York Times that the governor had made advances to him in the spring of 2020.