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Former Aide Accusing Gov. Cuomo Of Sexual Harassment Says She Believes Governor Was Propositioning Her For Sex

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- In her only TV interview, an accuser of Gov. Andrew Cuomo talked about her time working for him and when she says things took an inappropriate turn.

The governor's former executive assistant, Charlotte Bennett, spoke to CBS Evening News anchor Norah O'Donnell.

While Cuomo denies propositioning anyone, Bennett says that's exactly what he was doing, even if he didn't say so specifically.

"Do you believe that he was propositioning you?" O'Donnell asked.

"Yes," Bennett said.

"For what?" O'Donnell asked.

"Sex," Bennett said.

As CBS2's Dick Brennan reports, in the spring of 2020, Cuomo had become a national celebrity, and to Bennett, he probably felt himself untouchable.

In one conversation, Bennett says Cuomo even asked her about being a sexual assault survivor.

"So he goes, 'You were raped. You were raped. You were raped and abused and assaulted,'" she said.

On another occasion, Bennett says he called her in for dictation and told her to turn off the tape recorder.

"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 ... The governor asked me if I was sensitive to intimacy."

"In his office?" O'Donnell asked.

"Yes. During the work day," Bennett said.

Bennett says Cuomo told her he would be OK with sleeping with anyone over 22. Bennett is 25.

"I thought, 'He's trying to sleep with me. The governor's trying to sleep with me. And I'm deeply uncomfortable and I have to get out of this room as soon as possible,'" she said.

Bennett says she sent text messages to a friend immediately after the encounter writing the governor "talked about age differences in relationships."

The friend, who verified the messages, asks "WAIT WHAT" and "DID HE DO SOMETHING."

Bennett responds, "No but it was like the most explicit it could be."

"When I was even thinking of coming forward, I think that was where I held the most shame. In that, like, I really was uncomfortable," Bennett said.

"Why did you feel shame?" O'Donnell said.

"I feel like people put the onus on the woman to shut that conversation down. And by answering, I was somehow engaging in that or enabling it, when in fact, I was just terrified," Bennett said.

The governor apologized Wednesday.

"I never knew at the time I was making anyone uncomfortable," he said.

In a statement, he said, "What I said may have been misinterpreted."

"Did you misinterpret him?" O'Donnell asked.

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

When asked for a statement, the governor's office referred CBS2 to Cuomo's apology from Wednesday and asked people to wait for results of an investigation to be launched by the Attorney General's office.


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