2nd ex-staffer accuses Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, triggering resignation call
Charlotte Bennett, who left the New York governor's administration in November, says Cuomo made it clear he wanted to sleep with her
Another former aide has come forward and accused Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment.
Charlotte Bennett is the second woman in less than a week to detail workplace interactions with Cuomo that she considered inappropriate, prompting an anti-sexual harassment group to call for the three-term governor’s resignation.
A former health policy advisor and executive assistant to Cuomo, Bennett told the New York Times that the governor had made comments and asked questions that were inappropriate and made her uncomfortable. She spoke about a particular encounter alone in his office at the State Capitol last June.
Bennett left the administration in November.
In the wake of the allegations, the Sexual Harassment Working Group, made up of seven former state legislative staffers, are urging Cuomo to step down as Governor, according to the New York Post.
“ENOUGH,” said a statement from the group. “New York State has now lost the talents and ambition of yet another woman, whose safety and integrity were eliminated to serve a powerful man’s desires. Andrew Cuomo must resign now.”
Bennett stated that Cuomo had asked her questions about her sex life and whether or not she’d be open to dating someone with a significant age difference. He also explained that he would be OK with dating someone in their 20s.
Bennett is 25 and Cuomo is 63.
In addition, Bennett said that day Cuomo also complained about not being able to hug people because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Times reports. She stated Cuomo then asked her, “Who did I last hug?” While trying to lighten the unsettling subject by saying she missed hugging her parents, Cuomo then said, “No, I mean like really hugged somebody?”
Bennett said Cuomo never physically touched her, but his commentary made things clear what his intentions were.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett said. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
Bennett told Cuomo’s chief of staff, Jill DesRosiers, about the encounter a few days later. She was transferred to be a health policy adviser in an area of the building far from Cuomo’s office. She decided not to ask for an investigation because she liked her new position and “wanted to move on.”
The anti-harassment group called for an “immediate independent investigation into Governor Cuomo’s workplace behavior” in a Twitter post last week.
Cuomo made a statement on Saturday, flatly denying any accusation of harassment, saying he “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.”
He also said he authorized an independent review of Bennett’s allegations. The governor’s office has said the review would be carried out by Barbara Jones, a former federal judge.
This is the second time in a week that a former aide has come forward about Cuomo’s alleged harassment. The first was Lindsay Boylen, ex-special advisor to Cuomo.
According to her Wednesday post on Medium, Boylen wrote that Cuomo back in October 2017 had suggested to “play strip poker” while traveling on a plane to Albany, New York. She also wrote that Cuomo kissed her on the lips in 2018 after a one-on-one briefing in his New York City office.
Leading up to that incident, which prompted her to resign, Boylen said that Cuomo had fostered a culture of harassment for years.
“He made unflattering comments about the weight of female colleagues,” Boylen wrote. “He ridiculed them about their romantic relationships and significant others. He said the reasons that men get women were ‘money and power.'”
Boylen wrote about other “inappropriate gestures,” like giving female staffers rose on Valentine’s Day, but the one for her included an autographed photo of him.
“These were not-so-subtle reminders of the Governor exploiting the power dynamic with the women around him,” she said.
Cuomo has denied the allegations.
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