Cuomo lawyer goes on new attack against credibility of sexual harassment accusers, N.Y. Attorney General James

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s attorney has launched a new attack against the credibility of the state attorney general and some of the women whose sexual harassment allegations led to his resignation.

Cuomo lawyer Rita Glavin sent the broadside in a Sept. 13 letter to state Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Lavine, the committee’s members and its lawyers.

Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In it, Glavin cautions the committee against taking at face value Attorney General Letitia James’ blockbuster report on Cuomo from August and doubles down on previous criticisms against James, who, Glavin claims, made “material omissions and errors” in the report, which ultimately led to Cuomo’s downfall.

Glavin’s 25-page missive, which has not yet been reported on, was sent in response to an Aug. 26 request from Lavine to submit “evidence or any written submission” to the judiciary committee. It comes as the committee prepares its own report on its probe of Cuomo, which was originally geared at impeaching him but shifted course after he resigned.

Glavin argues that a report from the committee was rendered unnecessary when Cuomo stepped down.

“Any ‘report’ would necessarily trample on the governor’s due process rights,” she says in the letter.

Rita Glavin, personal attorney for the former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Rita Glavin, personal attorney for the former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (HOGP/AP)

Glavin reiterated other previous attacks against James’ report, writing that it was “designed to reach a predetermined outcome and to exact maximum political consequences,” but noted that Cuomo’s legal team still wouldn’t have a full rebuttal to James’ report “for several weeks.”

Glavin then cites “several examples that demonstrate glaring shortcomings” in the report from James.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (center) and independent investigators Anne L. Clark (left) and Joon H. Kim (right) present the findings of an independent investigation into accusations by multiple women that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed them.
New York Attorney General Letitia James (center) and independent investigators Anne L. Clark (left) and Joon H. Kim (right) present the findings of an independent investigation into accusations by multiple women that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed them. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

The most striking of those is her examination of Charlotte Bennett, a former Cuomo aide who accused him of “grooming” her for sex and asking her if she’d be open to dating older men. Glavin points to two incidents during Bennett’s time as a student at Hamilton College that appear to be aimed at undermining her credibility.

Citing an unnamed source, the letter alleges that during her time at Hamilton, Bennett had a contentious history with the administration over their handling of sexual assault cases and that she lied about a meeting with the school’s president David Wippman.

Glavin also contends in her letter that Bennett is alluded to in a federal lawsuit that alleged four female students were connected to false sexual misconduct accusations against a male student there. Glavin claims that one of those students was Bennett.

Charlotte Bennett (left) and then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (right)
Charlotte Bennett (left) and then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (right) (CBS EVENING NEWS WITH NORAH O’DONNELL)

The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed in 2018 because it was settled or “in the process of being settled,” court records show.

Bennett’s attorney Debra Katz slammed Glavin’s statements about her client as “false, defamatory and disgusting.”

“Her exclusive reliance on an unidentified witness whose allegations crumble under even the lightest scrutiny is particularly troubling,” Katz said. “Her client must be desperate to authorize this type of gutter ball. We are confident the committee will see through this transparent effort to smear a highly credible woman whose courage in coming forward led to the governor’s downfall.”

Glavin writes in a footnote to her letter that she redacted the unnamed author of the letter’s “identifying information.”

The Assembly Judiciary Committee probe is not solely focused on the sexual harassment accusations against Cuomo. It includes an examination of allegations that he gave preferential treatment to his family when administering COVID tests, that he withheld COVID nursing home data from the public and that he had state workers help him with his book.

Glavin addresses those issues, as well as several other claims of sexual harassment. Notably, when it comes to preferential treatment regarding COVID tests, Glavin points the finger at members of the Assembly and Senate, “who received preferential COVID-19 testing for themselves and various staff members,” including members of the Judiciary Committee to whom she sent the letter.

“We therefore question the ability of this committee to objectively address the ‘preferential’ testing issue,” she writes.

But Glavin’s letter glaringly omits mention of the female state trooper who accused Cuomo of making unwanted advances, one of the most damning accusations included in James’ report. And it spends little time on Cuomo’s book, contending at one point that the disgraced ex-gov didn’t have an “understanding” that assistance from his staffers “was in any way unlawful.”

The letter does, though, touch on Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo administration staffer who was running for Manhattan borough president when her sexual misconduct allegations became public — and it reiterates claims Glavin made in August that Boylan engaged in “witness tampering.”

Lindsey Boylan
Lindsey Boylan (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AP)

Boylan accused Cuomo of suggesting they play strip poker during an airplane flight while other state officials were present. One of those officials was Howard Zemsky, then the CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation, who along with the corporation’s general counsel Elizabeth Fine, requested Boylan be terminated from the ESD because she was “hostile and a bully,” Glavin writes.

In a statement from Cuomo’s office after Boylan’s accusations, Zemsky claimed Cuomo didn’t say anything about strip poker. But later, according to James’ report, he told investigators that after that statement was issued, Boylan left him a “threatening” message. Zemsky then recalled Cuomo making such a remark.

Glavin also suggests James’ probe should have looked inward and cites what she views as other omissions, including an examination into the relationship between Trip Yang, who worked on Boylan’s political campaign, and James’ right-hand man Ibrahim Khan.

Glavin claims that investigators didn’t interview Khan, the attorney general’s chief of staff, about conversations he had with Yang “regarding what Mr. Yang told him about Ms. Boylan’s allegations.”

She notes that Khan worked with Yang when he was serving as a consultant to James’ campaign when she ran for attorney in 2018.

Delaney Kempner, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, tarred Glavin’s letter as a “smear.”

“Once again, the former governor and his lawyer are attacking these women for bravely speaking out against sexual harassment,” Kempner said. “The continued attempts to smear these women and this investigation are repugnant and damaging to all New Yorkers.”

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