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ALBANY, N..Y. — Charlotte Bennett, a former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who has accused him of sexual misconduct, says the detailed allegations reported this week by a current staffer who says the governor groped her demonstrate “clear-cut and abhorrent” predatory behavior.
Bennett, 25, issued a scathing statement Thursday after an unnamed Cuomo staffer described in detail the alleged incident that took place late last year at the Executive Mansion in Albany.
In an interview with the Albany Times Union, the woman also laid out how the governor made a series of sexually explicit comments and touched her inappropriately several times in a way that she believed was intended to groom her for sex.
Bennett has described similar behavior on the part of the embattled Democratic governor.
“The Governor’s pattern of predatory behavior is clear-cut and abhorrent, and the similarities between my allegations and the allegations of my anonymous former coworker are nauseating,” she said in a statement. “His predatory behavior must stop, and those who enable him must be brave enough to hold him accountable.”
Bennett went public early last month with claims that Cuomo, while alone with her in his office last year, had asked whether she would date older men and whether she was monogamous in her relationships. He also suggested that he was open to having relationships with women in their 20s, she said.
Bennett said she believes if staffers in the office had taken her complaints about the governor’s behavior more seriously, it could have prevented the later alleged groping.
“His heinous behavior was normalized and enabled by the senior staff who failed to report my allegations,” she said.
The other woman, who still works in the Capitol, says she was summoned to Cuomo’s office at the Executive Mansion during a weekday in November under the pretext that the governor needed help with his cellphone. She told The Times Union that the governor slammed the office door closed and groped her breast under her blouse.
“He pulled me close, and all I remember is seeing his hand, his big hand,” she told the newspaper. “It was pretty much like ‘What are you doing?’” she said, adding, “He said, ‘I don’t care.’”
The governor’s lawyer, Rita Glavin, said in a statement Wednesday that Cuomo “has repeatedly made clear that he never made inappropriate advances or inappropriately touched anyone.”
Bennett and the unnamed staffer are among several current and former employees and other women who have lodged sexual harassment allegations against the 63-year-old Democrat in recent months.
Attorney General Letitia James is overseeing an independent investigation into the governor’s conduct.
Both women have spoken to investigators about their allegations.
Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing, saying he never touched any woman inappropriately and apologized last month for making anyone “feel uncomfortable.” He has repeatedly called on New Yorkers to await the results of the independent probe and the Assembly impeachment inquiry that began last month.
The alleged groping is by far the most aggressive accusation against Cuomo, but Debra Katz, Bennett’s attorney, said investigators should look at those around the governor who she says have enabled his alleged behavior.
“Predators develop patterns of abuse and the similarities between this accuser’s experience and Charlotte’s experience make clear that Gov. Cuomo had a clear pattern of who he would target and how he would go about targeting them,” Katz said. “If not for Charlotte Bennett speaking up early to protect herself, her experience could very well have ended like this woman’s, and it is absolutely sickening to see that so many enablers were willing to allow that to happen.”