‘Deeply uncomfortable’: Cuomo accuser Charlotte Bennett says she had to ‘get out of the room’

New York attorney general investigating allegations from three women as governor faces calls to resign

Alex Woodward
New York
Friday 05 March 2021 01:00
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Charlotte Bennett has discussed her accusations of sexual harassment against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as the state’s attorney general moves forward with an investigation into allegations from three women.

“I thought, ‘he’s trying to sleep with me – the governor is trying to sleep with me, and I am deeply uncomfortable, and I have to get out of this room as soon as possible,’” the former aide to the governor said in an interview with CBS News airing on Thursday.

“Without explicitly saying it, he implied to me that I was old enough for him and he was lonely,” she said.

During a meeting on 5 June with the governor, he allegedly asked his former executive assistant and health policy adviser several intrusive questions that led her to believe “the governor’s trying to sleep with me.” 

He allegedly asked Ms Bennett, who is a survivor of sexual abuse, whether she “had trouble enjoying being with someone because of my trauma.”

“The governor asked me if I was sensitive to intimacy,” she told CBS News. “He asked if it made it hard to really be with someone physically.”

He also allegedly asked whether she had ever been intimate with an older man.

Ms Bennett told The New York Times that the governor, 63, asked her questions about her sex life, including whether she was in a monogamous relationship, and if she had sex with older men, among several other interactions.

The governor has faced calls to resign in the wake of several public accounts of his alleged behaviour.

Several state lawmakers have said they could attempt to impeach him.

He has “repeatedly abused his power and yet has faced no accountability,” the state legislators said statement. “We must utilise every mechanism to lead a process commensurate with the severity of the governor’s multiple abuses of power.”

In a statement, the governor acknowledged a history of potentially unwanted attention and abuse in his remarks.

“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended,” he said. “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”

He added: “To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to.”

In a news conference on 3 March, he said: “First, I fully support a woman’s right to come forward. Ad I think it should be encouraged in every way. I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional. And I truly and deeply apologise for it. I feel awful about it.”

The governor’s office has referred an independent investigation into the allegations to Attorney General Letitia James.

“This is not a responsibility we take lightly as allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously,” she said in a statement on 1 March. “At the close of the review, the findings will be disclosed in a public report.”

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