Bennett was asked what made her think Cuomo was trying to sleep with her.
“Without explicitly saying it, he implied to me that I was old enough for him and he was lonely,” Bennett said.
Bennett said the governor told her he was looking for a girlfriend and also asked if she was sensitive to intimacy. She said she was in Cuomo’s office last June taking dictation when he made the remarks.
“And then he explains, at that point, that he is looking for a girlfriend. He’s lonely, he’s tired,” Bennett said.
“He asked if I had trouble enjoying being with someone because of my trauma,” Bennett added, explaining that she had previously told the governor that she had a history of sexual assault.
Bennett also said Cuomo asked her if age difference mattered in a relationship, saying, “He was fine with anyone over 22.”
She told the Times that she interpreted the exchange — which she said took place in June, while the state was in the throes of fighting the pandemic — as what the newspaper called “clear overtures to a sexual relationship.”
Bennett said she felt ashamed when thinking about coming forward with her claims. “I feel like people put the onus on the woman to shut that conversation down,” Bennett said. “And by answering, I was somehow engaging in that or enabling it, when in fact I was just terrified.”
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly, I am embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say but that’s the truth,” Cuomo said.
In a statement released after Cuomo’s apology on Wednesday in which he did not mention Bennett by name, Debra Katz, an attorney for Bennett, said the news conference was “full of falsehoods and inaccurate information” and rejected Cuomo’s claim that he didn’t know he was making anyone uncomfortable.
“My client, Charlotte Bennett, reported his sexually harassing behavior immediately to his Chief of Staff and Chief Counsel. We are confident that they made him aware of her complaint and we fully expect that the Attorney General’s investigation will demonstrate that Cuomo administration officials failed to act on Ms. Bennett’s serious allegations or to ensure that corrective measures were taken, in violation of their legal requirements,” Katz said.
Bennett said she watched Cuomo’s televised briefing.
“It’s not an apology. It’s not an issue of my feelings. It’s an issue of his actions,” she said. “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.”
CBS is scheduled to air another portion of Bennett’s interview Friday on “CBS This Morning.”
Bennett was the second woman to come forward with allegations of sexual harassment against Cuomo. Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to the governor, alleged that in 2018 Cuomo kissed her on the lips following a one-on-one briefing in his New York City office.
“And I think that’s really unfortunate, but probably necessary,” she said.
Another woman, Anna Ruch, told the Times — in an account that was corroborated to CNN by a friend — that Cuomo made an unwanted advance toward her during a crowded wedding reception in New York City in 2019.
The pending inquiry, though, could take months to complete, and Cuomo seized the news conference spotlight in an effort to push back against calls for him to immediately step down.
“I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable,” he said.
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