Things just got even worse for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has already been dogged by his nursing home scandal and sexual harassment allegations from a former aide. On Saturday, a second aide came forward with allegations of sexual harassment.
Charlotte Bennett, 25, a former executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration, told The New York Times that when she was alone with Cuomo in his office, the governor asked her about her sex life, and if she “had ever been with an older man.”
Bennett is a survivor of sexual assault.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” she told the New York Times.
This is not the first time she’s told her story, either. According to the report, Bennett reported the incident to Cuomo’s chief of staff.
However, after she gave a statement about the incident to a special counsel’s office, she was transferred to a different job where she would likely have no contact with the governor.
Cuomo’s version of events differs greatly from Bennett’s. In a statement to the New York Times, he said he believed he was acting as her mentor, and claimed he “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.”
Cuomo does not deny asking her personal questions.
The alleged incident happened in June of 2020. At the time, Cuomo was the golden boy of the media.
Bennett’s story is quite detailed.
Ms. Bennett said that during the June encounter, the governor, 63, also complained to her about being lonely during the pandemic, mentioning that he “can’t even hug anyone,” before turning the focus to Ms. Bennett. She said that Mr. Cuomo asked her, “Who did I last hug?”
Ms. Bennett said she had tried to dodge the question by responding that she missed hugging her parents. “And he was, like, ‘No, I mean like really hugged somebody?’” she said.
Mr. Cuomo never tried to touch her, Ms. Bennett said, but the message of the entire episode was unmistakable to her.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Ms. Bennett said. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
After reporting the incident and getting transferred, Bennett decided not to insist on an investigation because she was happy with her new job and “wanted to move on.”
In addition to reporting the incident, Bennet told her parents and friends about what happened with Cuomo via text message. The Times reviewed the messages and confirmed their contents.
In addition to asking her about whether she was having sex with other people while she was in her recent relationship, and whether she had ever been with an older man, Cuomo expressed that “he’s fine with anyone above the age of 22.”
When asked about whether she felt she was being propositioned, Bennett said, “That’s absolutely how it felt.”
Ms. Bennett has since left the Cuomo administration, largely due to her experience with the governor.
“His presence was suffocating,” she explained to the Times. “I was thinking that I could recover and have distance but that is so naïve.”