Charlotte Bennett, who served as an executive assistant to former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, filed a lawsuit against the 64-year-old in federal court Wednesday seeking damages for sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation.
Bennett, 27, was among the first of more than a dozen women to accuse Cuomo of unwanted sexual advances or contact, telling The New York Times in February 2021 that her boss asked her intrusive questions about her sex life, asked if she was interested in older men and implied he wanted a sexual relationship with her.
In her lawsuit Wednesday, Bennett goes into more detail about working under Cuomo, claiming he “subjected her to sexualized comments about her appearance” and “assigned her humiliating and demeaning tasks,” such as making her sing songs for him on command and do as many pushups as she could in front of him and other employees.
The lawsuit also states that Cuomo allegedly pressed Bennett to comment on the size of his hands, making her extremely uncomfortable because of the “common association between the size of a man’s hand and the size of his penis.”
In another instance, she claimed, Cuomo pressured her to share the details of a sexual assault she experienced in college, then told her: “Well, some people have it much worse.”
Following her speaking out, Cuomo and his top aides publicly smeared her, Bennett said in a statement Wednesday.
“My career as a public servant was abruptly cut short because of Governor Cuomo’s and his top aides’ sexual harassment and retaliation against me after I complained about Governor Cuomo’s misconduct,” she said. “They must all be held accountable for their actions.”
Bennett’s lawsuit also names three Cuomo staffers as defendants, accusing them of mishandling sexual harassment complaints she made while working for Cuomo.
An extensive report by the state attorney general released in August 2021 corroborated Bennett’s and others’ claims, but Cuomo, who was forced to resign shortly thereafter, continues to deny any wrongdoing. He’s claimed his accusers misinterpreted his innocent actions as sexually charged.
Lindsey Boylan, another former aide to Cuomo and the first to speak out with allegations against him in late 2020, extended her support to Bennett in a tweet Wednesday.
“I could not be more proud of Charlotte Bennett,” she wrote. “I could not feel more love for someone I didn’t know two years ago. She is brave and she is a warrior. And she has my full support.”
Bennett’s lawsuit comes a day after Cuomo filed an ethics complaint against New York Attorney General Letitia James over her office’s report on his actions, saying she “cynically manipulated a legal process for personal, political gain.”