Cuomo accuser says the governor is refusing 'to acknowledge or take responsibility for his predatory behavior'

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Grace Panetta
·3 min read
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Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) speaks at a press conference. Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • A Cuomo accuser slammed the governor for refuse to take responsibility for "predatory" behavior.

  • Former Cuomo aide Charlotte Bennett said the governor "wields his power to avoid justice."

  • Cuomo will face an independent investigation over two public allegations of sexual harassment.

  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A former aide who accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment slammed his apology statement as insufficient on Monday and said the governor "has refused to acknowledge or take responsibility for his predatory behavior."

Charlotte Bennett, 25, a former executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration, came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against the governor in an interview with The New York Times published Saturday. She is the second woman along with former economic development official Lindsey Boylan to publicly accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment.

In a Sunday evening statement, Cuomo said that while "I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny," he apologized for any instance where his comments made anyone uncomfortable.

"I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that," he said.

On Monday, Bennett strongly denounced both Cuomo's statement and his delay in acquiescing to an investigation spearheaded by the state's attorney general.

"As we know, abusers - particularly those with tremendous amounts of power - are often repeat offenders who engage in manipulative tactics to diminish allegations, blame victims, deny wrongdoing and escape consequences," Bennett told The Times. "It took the governor 24 hours and significant backlash to allow for a truly independent investigation. These are not the actions of someone who simply feels misunderstood; they are the actions of an individual who wields his power to avoid justice."

Bennett's attorney Debra Katz said that Bennett intends to fully cooperate with the fledgling investigation into Cuomo's conduct. Katz is a high-profile sex discrimination lawyer who previously represented Christine Blasey-Ford when she accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the 1980s.

"He was not acting as a mentor, and his remarks were not misunderstood by Ms. Bennett," Katz told The Times. "He was abusing his power over her for sex. This is textbook sexual harassment."

Cuomo initially said that he had selected retired federal judge Barbara Jones to conduct an investigation, but received swift blowback from members of the state legislature who accused him of tipping the scales in his favor by picking his own investigator.

Now, the investigation will be spearheaded by New York Attorney Letitia James' office after Cuomo made an official referral asking James to oversee the selection of a private, independent legal tean to fully investigate the allegations and issue a public report on their findings.

Bennett told The Times that Cuomo asked her a number of inappropriate questions about her sex and dating life, including whether she had dated older men before.

"I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared," she told The Times. "And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job."

In an essay published on Medium, Boylan similarly chronicled years of unwanted sexual advances, including inappropriate touching and sexual comments, that ultimately culminated in Cuomo kissing her without her consent in late 2018, she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider