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Reports: Top Cuomo Aides Allegedly Altered July Report To Conceal Number Of Nursing Home Deaths

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There are new developments in the scandal surrounding nursing home deaths during the pandemic.

Published reports by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal allege top aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo intervened to rewrite a July 2020 draft report by the Department of Health on nursing home deaths to conceal the actual number of people who passed away.

Already the feds are reportedly looking into allegations of a cover-up and whether a March 25 Department  of Health order increased the number of fatalities by ordering nursing homes to accept a return of patients after being treated for COVID-19 at hospitals, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.

Late Friday, special counsel to the governor Beth Garvey issued a statement saying, "There is no credible claim that the public or legislators did not know there was a subset of out of facility deaths that had been reported to DOH but was not yet disclosed... there was no undercount, as total deaths irrespective of location were always disclosed."

According to the papers, the draft report said that nearly 10,000 nursing home residents died from the coronavirus. But after the alleged "rewrite," which excluded patients transferred to hospitals who later died, the public was told the number of people who died was 6,432.

Garvey said in a statement, "The out of facility data was omitted after DOH could not confirm it had been adequately verified - this did not change the conclusion of the report, which was and is that the March 25 order was "not a driver of nursing home infections or fatalities."

Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, tweeted, "Let's be clear: if any State employee knowingly whitewashed an official report to cover up the deaths of New Yorkers, that is unacceptable and unethical, at best."

Federal prosecutors are investigating the alleged cover-up of nursing home deaths.

Cuomo is also facing new revelations in his sexual harassment scandal after one of his accusers spoke out on camera for the first time.

Charlotte Bennett, 25, spoke from the heart in an exclusive interview with CBS Evening News anchor Norah O'Donnell.

"He is a textbook abuser," Bennett said. "He lets his temper and his anger rule the office."

Bennett is one of three women pointing their fingers at the governor. Bennett charged that in May 2020, Cuomo asked her what she called inappropriate questions that made her think he wanted to have sexual relations with her.

Bennett said the governor repeatedly asked her about being a rape survivor.

"He goes, 'You were raped. You were raped. You were raped and abused and assaulted,'" she said.

"Why do you think he was fixated on you as a survivor of sexual assault?" O'Donnell asked.

"I think it's really strategic. I think abusers look for vulnerabilities, previous traumas, the idea that maybe I'm more willing to accept behavior because I have a history of sexual violence, perhaps I'm not as confident in myself because of my history," Bennett said.

When asked for a response to Bennett's charges, a spokesman for the governor sent CBS2 a transcript from the press conference Cuomo held a few days ago when he publicly apologized and said he never touched anyone inappropriately.

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