New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Andrew Cuomo “just can’t serve as governor anymore,” adding his voice on Thursday to a growing chorus of calls for Cuomo to resign after six women accused him of sexual misconduct.
Cuomo has denied the allegations by the women, most of whom are former aides. The most recent is an unnamed aide who told The Times-Union newspaper on Tuesday that Cuomo had groped her after calling her to the executive mansion last year under the pretext of business.
Reuters could neither independently verify the woman’s identity, nor her account.
Cuomo denied the accusation, the Times-Union reported on Wednesday, saying “I have never done anything like this,” and called the details “gut-wrenching.” Representatives for Cuomo did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
The governor issued a broad apology at a news conference last week for any behavior that made women feel uncomfortable, but maintained that he has never touched anyone inappropriately.
The office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James is leading an independent investigation into the allegations. Cuomo has said he will not resign and has asked the public to await the results of that probe before making judgment.
De Blasio, a longtime political rival of Cuomo, said on Thursday that the latest accusation was disturbing.
“The specific allegation that the governor called an employee of his, someone who he had power over, called them to a private place and then sexually assaulted her, it’s absolutely unacceptable,” de Blasio told reporters. “It is disgusting to me, and he can no longer serve as governor.”
Calls for Cuomo to step down have been mounting since late February, when Cuomo’s first accuser, a former aide and current Manhattan borough president candidate Lindsey Boylan, published an essay accusing him of making unwanted advances.
Last weekend, the two top Democrats in New York’s state legislature called on the governor to resign, saying the allegations have undermined his ability to lead.
“We have many challenges to address, and I think it is time for the governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York,” said one of the lawmakers, House Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
In a statement, Heastie said he would be meeting with Assembly members on Thursday to discuss “potential paths forward” regarding the allegations against Cuomo.
(Reporting by Gabriella Borter and Maria Caspani; Editing by Daniel Wallis)