One of the former aides to New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoBriahna Joy Gray says Chris Cuomo will return to CNN following scandal Chris Cuomo: Suspension from CNN 'embarrassing' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump's pre-debate COVID-19 test sparks criticism MORE (D) who has accused him of sexual harassment said on Monday that the governor must “take responsibility for his predatory behavior.”
“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,” Charlotte Bennett, 25, said in a statement obtained by The New York Times.
“It took the governor 24 hours and significant backlash to allow for a truly independent investigation,” she continued. “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 statement served as her first public remarks since the Times on Saturday reported on her allegations that Cuomo previously asked her personal questions about her sex life, including whether she would be open to having sex with older men. She also said the governor had indicated he was willing to have relationships with women in their 20s, which she interpreted as alluding to a potential sexual relationship between them.
“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” she told the Times in the newspaper's initial report. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
Bennett said she reported the incident to a female supervisor, prompting her to be transferred to a different job, but Cuomo did not face disciplinary action.
Cuomo’s office did not immediately return The Hill’s request for comment Tuesday morning on Bennett’s latest statement.
On Sunday, the governor released a statement acknowledging the allegations of unwanted sexual advances from Bennett and another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, and admitting to Times he “may have been insensitive or too personal.” He denied the claims from Boylan that he kissed her without her consent, however, saying he “never inappropriately touched anybody.”
“I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation,” Cuomo said. “To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said Monday she would move forward with starting a probe into the allegations against Cuomo after receiving a referral letter from his office.
Bennett’s lawyer, Debra Katz, indicated that her client would “cooperate fully with the attorney general’s investigation.”
“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.”
Bennett’s statement was released ahead of the newspaper's reporting Monday night that a third woman accused Cuomo of sexual misconduct. Anna Ruch, 33, said Cuomo had put his hand on her lower back and then her cheeks and asked if he could kiss her at a wedding in 2019.