Charlotte Bennett, one of the women accusing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) of sexual harassment, has said that she did not perceive the governor’s Wednesday remarks addressing multiple allegations of inappropriate conduct and workplace sexual harassment as an apology.
“The fact is that he was sexually harassing me, and he has not apologized for sexually harassing me. And he can’t even use my name,” Bennett, a former executive assistant and health policy adviser, said of her former boss during a CBS interview that aired Thursday night.
Speaking publicly on the allegations during a Wednesday briefing, Cuomo insisted that he had not intended to hurt anyone, and failed to directly address Bennett’s accusations that he asked whether she had slept with older men.
“I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said. “I never, ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone pain. I feel terrible that these people felt uncomfortable, felt hurt, felt pain from the interactions, and I’m embarrassed by it, and I feel bad from it.”
The Wednesday briefing addressing the growing scandal were the clearest indications acknowledging any wrongdoing from the governor, who said in a previous statement obtained by The New York Times that he “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.”
In a longer statement on Sunday, Cuomo said he acknowledged that “some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation,” adding, “To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”
In response to Cuomo’s claims that he was misinterpreted, Bennett said: “I understood him loud and clear. It just didn’t go the way he planned.”
Bennett further suggested that the governor’s words, which focused on his accusers’ feelings, did not appear to take full responsibility for the “issue of his actions.”
During the CBS interview, Bennett’s detailing of her various moments with the governor appeared consistent with similar uncomfortable experiences Bennett had revealed to the Times, including that Cuomo allegedly told her that he was was looking for a girlfriend, had asked her about her sexual relationships, and had inquired about whether a previous experience with sexual assault had impacted her sex life.
“I really was uncomfortable and understood that my boss was asking these questions, so I was trying to answer them,” Bennett said, adding: “I was just terrified.”
Bennett revisited multiple instances of inappropriate comments, that included a one-on-one encounter in Cuomo’s State Capitol office in June last year that was central to the Times’ piece.
Cuomo had allegedly told Bennett at that time that he was comfortable dating women decades younger than him — “anyone over 22” — and asked whether she had ever been intimate with older men which she interpreted as overtures for a sexual relationship.
“Without explicitly saying it, he implied to me that I was old enough for him and he was lonely,” Bennett said.
Cuomo is facing similar allegations from two other women, Lindsey Boylan and Anna Ruch. Boylan also worked with Cuomo in the state’s economic development agency, and served in his administration from 2015 to 2018.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said Monday that she was launching an investigation into the allegations as some lawmakers press Cuomo to resign, calls that Cuomo has rebuffed.