New York Governor Cuomo is facing sexual harassment charges from at least three women including Charlotte Bennet, a 25-year-old former aide who claims he groomed her for sex and then derailed her career.
In a CBS interview, the young aide claims that the 63-year-old governor propositioned her during a meeting. “Without explicitly saying it, he implied to me that I was old enough for him and he was lonely,” Bennet said to Norah O’Donnell of “CBS Evening News.”
During the interview, the aide stated that due to all the attention during the pandemic, Cuomo felt emboldened… he felt “untouchable” as he got more airtime and more adulation. “I think he felt like he was untouchable in a lot of ways,” Bennet stated.
The governor started asking Bennet about her love life on May 15 and then supposedly became fixated with her, repeating over and over again references to her history as a sexual assault survivor. Cuomo said, “You were raped. You were raped. You were raped and abused and assaulted.”
(Video Credit: CBS News)
The aide’s allegations continue with Cuomo summoning her to his office on June 5 for dictation and then telling her to turn off the recorder. At that time, he allegedly told Bennet that he was lonely, tired, and was looking for a girlfriend. She claims that Cuomo asked if she had trouble enjoying being with someone because of her drama. He asked her if she was sensitive to having intimacy.
Cuomo went on to allegedly ask her if age difference mattered and if she had ever been with an older man. He told her he was fine with anyone over the age of 22. Bennet claims she was terrified of Cuomo.
Bennet first aired her accusations last week to The New York Times.
“I thought, he’s trying to sleep with me, the governor is trying to sleep with me,” she adamantly stated to O’Donnell. “And I am deeply uncomfortable, and I have to get out of this room as soon as possible.”
Bennet is not buying Cuomo’s apology either. “It’s not an apology,” she said. “It’s not an issue of my feelings. It’s an issue of his actions. The fact is he was sexually harassing me and he has not apologized for sexually harassing me. And he can’t even use my name.”
“When I was even thinking of coming forward, I think that was when I had the most shame,” she sadly noted. “I really was uncomfortable. … I feel like people put the onus on the woman to shut that conversation down, and by answering I was somehow engaging in that or enabling it. … It didn’t feel like I had a choice.”
When the governor apologized on Wednesday, he denied knowing that he was acting inappropriately. He then arrogantly went on to say that he has “learned an important lesson.” He is refusing to resign over the incidents.
Bennet is joined in accusing Cuomo of sexual harassment by another former aide, Lindsey Boylan. She alleges that he forcibly kissed her. A third woman named Ann Ruch has also accused Cuomo of making unwanted advances towards her by touching her exposed lower back and then asking if he could kiss her.
Evan Hill at The New York Times tweeted: “A third woman has accused Governor Cuomo of unwanted touching and sexual attention, saying he placed his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her at her friend’s wedding.”
Bennet’s attorney, Debra Katz, called Cuomo a liar. She said his remarks were “full of falsehoods and inaccurate information.”
“The governor repeatedly said he had no idea he made anyone uncomfortable,” Katz declared. “My client, Charlotte Bennett, reported his sexually harassing behavior immediately to his chief of staff and chief counsel. We are confident that they made him aware of her complaint.”
Bennet left the Cuomo administration last November. She was an executive assistant and health policy adviser to the governor.
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