Former Cuomo aide shares details of sexual harassment

Former Cuomo aide shares details of sexual harassment
Charlotte Bennett is one of three women to accuse Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment. (Source: CBS Evening News)

WASHINGTON (WWNY) - Charlotte Bennett is one of three women to accuse Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment.

Thursday night she spoke in detail about her experience and the shame she says has followed.

“I thought, ‘he’s trying to sleep with me. The governor’s trying to sleep with me,’” she said.

In an exclusive interview with CBS Evening News’ Norah O’Donnell, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett says that was her first thought when she says she realized her professional relationship with Cuomo became anything but professional.

The former aide says Cuomo began asking her whether she thought age made a difference in romantic relationships and that he would be open to relationships with anyone older than 22.

She says he once even called her into his office to take dictation and asked her to turn off the tape recorder.

“Without explicitly saying it, he implied to me that I was old enough for him and he was lonely,” she said.

Bennett says when he asked these questions, she answered them honestly, which she says made her feel ashamed.

“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.”

This interview is the first time Bennett has spoken about her experience since Cuomo publicly apologized during a briefing on Wednesday.

“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” the governor said. “It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it.”

The governor calls it unintentional, but Bennett says she understood the message loud and clear. And when it comes to Wednesday’s apology, she doesn’t buy it.

“It’s not an issue of my feelings,” she said, “it’s an issue of his actions. The fact is, he was sexually harassing me, and he has not apologized for sexually harassing me.”

Asked about Bennett’s interview, Thursday night the governor’s office sent a statement from last weekend. It reads in part, “Ms. Bennett’s concerns were treated with sensitivity and respect. The matter was promptly escalated to special counsel.”

The statement says Bennett was transferred to a position she had expressed interest in and adds she never made a claim of physical contact or inappropriate sexual conduct.

The state attorney general’s office is now investigating.

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