Cuomo Accuser Charlotte Bennett Says Governor Is ‘Absolutely’ Gaslighting Her
Charlotte Bennett, one of several women who has accused Andrew Cuomo (D) of sexual harassment, said Tuesday that the New York governor should face impeachment if he refuses to resign.
Speaking with CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell, Bennett, a former aide of Cuomo’s, said “the governor broke federal and state law when he sexually harassed me and current and former staffers.”
“If he’s not willing to step down, then we have a responsibility to act and impeach him,” she said.
Bennett added that Cuomo ― who has flatly denied the many allegations against him ― was “absolutely” gaslighting her by insisting that he’d only been showing concern towards her during encounters that had made her uncomfortable.
“He’s trying to justify himself by making me out to be someone who can’t tell the difference between sexual harassment and mentorship. I think that’s absolutely absurd,” Bennett told O’Donnell.
“We have a report. We have the facts,” she continued, referring to the investigation conducted by New York Attorney General Letitia James which concluded that Cuomo had sexually harassed at least 11 women, including Bennett, since taking the helm as governor.
Cuomo, a Democrat, has served in the role since 2011.
James said Tuesday that Cuomo had “sexually harassed current and former New York State employees by engaging in unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.”
Bennett, who was the governor’s executive assistant and health policy adviser, has said the governor made inappropriate comments to her on several occasions.
During one encounter in June 2020, she claimed he asked her whether her experience with sexual assault had negatively impacted her sex life. He allegedly also told her he was lonely and was comfortable with the idea of dating “anyone over 22.”
Cuomo, 63, has refuted Bennett’s claims and the findings in James’ report, saying “the facts are much different than what has been portrayed” and that he “never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.”
During a Tuesday press conference, he addressed Bennett’s allegations directly and said he’d meant only to empathize with her during their conversation last June.
Bennett, he said, had “identified herself to me as a survivor of sexual assault.”
“The truth is that her story resonated deeply with me,” Cuomo said. “I had heard the same story before with the same ugliness, the same injustice, the same damage. Not only had I heard the story before, I had lived the story before. My family member is a survivor of sexual assault in high school. I have watched her live and suffer with the trauma. I would do anything to make it go away for her, but it never really goes away.”
The governor said he was “truly and deeply sorry” to Bennett for bringing his personal experiences to the workplace and for “further complicating the situation.”
“My goal was the exact opposite. I wish nothing but good for you and for all survivors of sexual assault,” he said.
In a tweet, Bennett responded to Cuomo’s comments, saying she does “not want an apology ― I want accountability and an end to victim-blaming.”
She then tagged New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) and beseeched him to “do the right thing” and impeach Cuomo.
President Joe Biden and several other high-profile Democrats — including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) — have called for Cuomo’s resignation.
“The Governor must resign for the good of the state,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.
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