One of Andrew Cuomo's accusers, Charlotte Bennett, has alleged that the New York governor had someone else take his mandatory workplace sexual harassment training course for him and then signed off on it as if he'd taken it himself. Bennett made the allegations in a bombshell interview aired on CBS on Friday night.
The revelations come after Cuomo was asked on Wednesday if he had completed sexual harassment training, when he said the "Short answer is yes." Bennett, during the interview, also shared what allegedly happened after she informed Cuomo's chief of staff that he made a number of inappropriate comments, including asking her if her experience with sexual assault impacted her sex life.
In an interview on 'CBS Evening News with Norah O'Donnell', the 25-year-old former Cuomo aide said: "In 2019, he did not take the sexual harassment training." When O'Donnell asked, "How do you know?" Bennett said, "I was there. I heard [the office director] say, 'I can't believe I'm doing this for you' and making a joke about the fact that she was completing the training for him. And then I heard her at the end ask him to sign the certificate."
Bennett's allegations are complete opposite to what Cuomo had claimed on Wednesday. Later, his office in a statement told CBS that Stephanie Benton, Cuomo's office director, "categorically denies the exchange," and what Bennett said "is not true."
However, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Bennett also said that one of Cuomo's top aides told to her last summer that Cuomo had been "grooming" her but that the matter didn't need further investigation because the behavior hadn't gone any further. This was after she told Cuomo's chief of staff that the governor made a number of inappropriate comments.
Bennett during that meeting told that she didn't want to work with Cuomo directly as she felt uncomfortable. "I sat down and pretty quickly just said, 'I love working here. I love you guys. But the governor crossed a line with me last week,'" Bennett said. "And she asked me what I was referring to. And I said, 'He said he was lonely, he said he wanted a girlfriend. He asked me if I had slept with older men. He said he was willing to sleep with younger women.' And at that point, that was enough for her. And she was just, like, 'What can we do here?'"
Surviving the Attack
Two days later, Bennett said, she was transferred to a new job. She said that initially Cuomo's staff apologized but then they transferred her to avoid further scandal. Also, Bennett was too nervous to be be dragged into the scandal. "I asked them if they could let it go, saying, 'I don't want this to be investigated please drop this,' you know, because I was scared.
Also in the interview, Bennett said the governor tasked her with "finding" him a girlfriend — then impatiently asked a day later if she had done so. Before the interview aired, Bennett's lawyer, Debra Katz, sent a letter to state Attorney General Letitia James asking the AG to ensure that evidence related to Bennett's sexual harassment claims is preserved by the Governor's office and senior staff.
Katz said her request was urgent and "heightened by recent new reports that the Governor's staff modified government reports related to other matters."
"When she said, 'I am terrified, I don't want you to investigate,' what they should've said is, 'We have a legal duty to investigate,'" Katz said.
Interestingly, in 2019, Cuomo signed into law an amendment that made it easier to prove sexual harassment. And in this case, he could have been under fire. Bennett said she is "confident" in the attorney general's investigation and called on Cuomo to step down if the investigation's findings support her allegations.