Cuomo accuser details harassment in first TV interview

Emily Burkhard
Created: March 04, 2021 11:45 PM

Charlotte Bennett, one of women accusing Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, spoke to CBS News Thursday night.

Bennett told Norah O’Donnell the governor continually brought up her history as a survivor of sexual assault and implied that he wanted to sleep with her.

“I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said Wednesday.

Bennett doesn’t buy it.

"Did you misinterpret him?” O’Donnell asked Bennett.

“No, I understood him loud and clear,” she said. “It just didn't go the way he planned."

Bennett said beginning in May 2020, the governor started asking about her love life. She said he continually brought up her sexual assault.

"He goes, you were raped, you were raped, you were raped and abused and assaulted,” she said.

Bennett told CBS News in June, Cuomo told her he was lonely and wanted a girlfriend. She said he also asked if she had trouble enjoying intimacy due to her history and if age differences mattered to her.

"I thought, ‘He's trying to sleep with me,’” Bennett said. “’The governor is trying to sleep with me. And I am deeply uncomfortable and I have to get out of this room as soon as possible.’"

O’Donnell asked Bennett why she didn't get up and leave.

"I didn't feel like I had a choice,” she said.

“He's your boss?” O’Donnell asked.

"He's my boss, he's everyone's boss,” Bennett said.

NewsChannel 13 spoke with Albany Law School Professor Mary Lynch about the Attorney General's investigation, and potential charges.

She said the allegations made by Bennett and former Cuomo staffer Lindsey Boylan would be subject to state workplace sexual harassment laws.

The circumstances are different for the allegation made by Anna Ruch, who accused the governor of putting his hand on her bare back before trying to kiss her at a wedding in 2019. Lynch said that also could be considered sexual contact, but that's open to interpretation.

"Was it an intimate part of the body, is the lower back an intimate part of the body, what were the other circumstances around how the touch happened?” Lynch explained.

As for what charges the governor could be facing, Lynch said again, that depends on what is discovered in the AG’s investigation.

"Depending on how sexual the nature is, of an advance, it could rise to the level of sexual contact and therefore be sexual abuse in the third degree but again we need a lot more facts to know what it is or isn't,” Lynch said.

When the governor apologized Wednesday, he asked that people hold off on judgment until the results of the AG’s investigation are released.

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