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One of the governor’s accusers, Charlotte Bennett, has given an interview to Norah O’Donnell of CBS Evening News regarding her accusations against him. It will air on Thursday night.
Who is Charlotte Bennett?
Charlotte Bennett, 25, is a former aide to the New York governor. She worked as executive assistant and health policy adviser in his administration, before leaving in November of 2020.
According to her LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, Ms Bennett now works as director of operations at Primary Maternity Care.
She was hired to work in the governor’s Manhattan office as an entry-level briefer in early 2019, being promoted to senior briefer and executive assistant only a few months later.
Ms Bennett had a friendly relationship with the governor due to their mutual ties to Westchester County.
In March of 2020, she was asked to work in Albany as part of the state’s response to Covid-19.
She came forward with her story after seeing accusations against Mr Cuomo by Lindsey Boylan.
What has she accused Mr Cuomo of?
Ms Bennett told The New York Times that the governor sexually harassed her in the late spring of 2020 as the state responded to the initial wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
She says that the governor, 63, asked her questions about her sex life, including if she was in a monogamous relationship, and if she had sex with older men.
In one encounter on 15 May, Ms Bennett, who is open about her experience as a survivor of sexual assault, says the governor appeared fixated on the topic, looking her in the eyes and repeating that she had been “raped and abused and attacked and assaulted and betrayed” over and over again, she told the New YorkTimes.
Ms Bennett described another unsettling incident that occurred when she and the governor were alone in his State Capitol office in Albany on 5 June.
She told the Times that Mr Cuomo had asked her numerous personal questions, including if she thought age made a difference in romantic relationships. He then said he was open to relationships with women in their 20s and complained about being lonely during the pandemic.
He complained that he “can’t even hug anyone” before asking her who she last hugged.
In an attempt to defuse the situation, Ms Bennet said she missed hugging her parents, to which the governor responded: “No, I mean like really hugged somebody?” Ms Bennett said.
Although Mr Cuomo never tried to touch her, Ms Bennett interpreted the interaction as clear overtures to a sexual relationship. She told the paper she felt “horribly uncomfortable and scared” and assumed it was the end of her job.
What happened next?
Ms Bennett informed Mr Cuomo’s chief of staff Jill DesRosiers about the interaction within a week and was transferred to a position as a health policy adviser in an office at the other end of the building.
Towards the end of June, she gave a lengthy statement to a special counsel to the governor, Judith Mogul.
She decided not to insist on an investigation as she was happy in her new job and wanted to “move on”. No further action was taken at the time.
Ms Bennett has said has no problem with the actions of the two women she spoke with and that they were sympathetic to her concerns.
She says that she told her parents and friends about the encounter with the governor at the time and has kept the relevant text messages.
What does Mr Cuomo say?
Mr Cuomo said in a statement to the Times that he believed he was acting as a mentor to Ms Bennett and had never made advances toward her and did not intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.
He described Ms Bennett as a “hard-working and valued” member of his staff, and that she had “every right to speak out.”
Mr Cuomo also said that Ms Bennett had told him she was a sexual assault survivor and he had tried to be supportive and helpful.
“The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported,” he said.
He did not deny asking Ms Bennett personal questions.
The governor has requested an independent review of the matter and asks that New Yorkers wait for the findings before making judgments.
In a news conference on Wednesday, he apologised to the three women who have accused him of sexual harassment.
“First, I fully support a woman’s right to come forward. And 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.”
Mr Cuomo has refused to resign.