Charlotte Bennett, a former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and one of three women to come forward with sexual harassment allegations against him, said he brought up her history as a sexual assault survivor in multiple uncomfortable exchanges.
It was one of several disturbing allegations that Bennett revealed in an interview on “CBS Evening News” with Norah O’Donnell that aired Thursday night.
Bennett, 25, said her relationship with the 63-year-old Democratic governor took a turn on May 15, 2020, when he began asking her inappropriate and repeated questions about her love life and previous trauma.
“So he goes, ‘You were raped. You were raped and abused and assaulted,’” Bennett said.
In a separate incident on June 5, Bennett said she was called into Cuomo’s office to take dictation, but he told her to turn off the tape recorder and then said he was lonely, tired and looking for a girlfriend.
“He asked if I had trouble enjoying being with someone because of my trauma,” she said. “The governor asked me if I was sensitive to intimacy.”
Last spring, as New York was grappling with being the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuomo was appearing on television almost daily.
Bennett said she believed the national attention emboldened him.
“I think he felt like he was untouchable in a lot of ways,” she said.
Bennett was an executive assistant and health policy adviser to Cuomo until November. She first came forward to The New York Times last week after Lindsey Boylan, a former state economic development official, alleged that the governor harassed her several times from 2016 to 2018.
Bennett said that the governor asked questions about her sex life, if she believed age differences mattered and said he was open to relationships with women older than 22.
“I thought, he’s trying to sleep with me. The governor is trying to sleep with me. And I’m deeply uncomfortable, and I have to get out of this room as soon as possible,” Bennett said, when asked how she felt during that exchange.
“Without explicitly saying it, he implied to me that I was old enough for him, and he was lonely.”
In text messages sent from Bennett to a friend immediately afterward, which CBS News said it reviewed, Bennett said they “talked about age differences in relationships.” When her friend texted back, “WAIT WHAT,” “DID HE DO SOMETHING,” Bennett replied, “No but it was like the most explicit it could be.”
On Wednesday, Cuomo apologized for his behavior but said he would not resign. He said he never “touched anyone inappropriately,” contradicting claims from the two other accusers.
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” he said. “It was unintentional, and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly, I am embarrassed by it.”
“It’s not an apology. It’s not an issue of my feelings,” Bennett said of that statement. “It’s an issue of his actions. The fact is that he was sexually harassing me, and he has not apologized for sexually harassing me. And he can’t even use my name.”
Cuomo’s office referred CBS’s request for a response to the governor’s existing apology and asked that it wait for results of the investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D).