Mar 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Cuomo accuser speaks out in first TV interview: "He is a textbook abuser"

Charlotte Bennett, a former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who has accused him of sexual harassment, told "CBS Evening News" that the governor asked her inappropriate questions about her personal life and sought to sleep with her.

Why it matters: Clips from the interview were released a day after Cuomo issued an apology for making people feel "uncomfortable" in the wake of harassment allegations by three women.

  • But Cuomo insisted that he had never touched anyone inappropriately and urged people to reserve judgment until the New York attorney general completes her investigation.
  • Bennett responded to Cuomo's statement, saying that it was "not an apology" and that "he has not apologized for sexually harassing me."

Details: During the interview, Bennett described a "deeply uncomfortable" encounter on June 5, months into the coronavirus pandemic, in which Cuomo allegedly spoke to her about being lonely and wanting a girlfriend.

What she's saying: "He is a textbook abuser. He lets his temper and his anger rule the office, but he was very sweet to me for a year, in the hopes that maybe one day, when he came onto me, I would think that we were friends or that it was appropriate or that it was OK," Bennett said.

  • "I think abusers look for vulnerabilities, previous traumas, the idea that maybe I'm more willing to accept behavior because I have a history of sexual violence," she answered when asked why she thought Cuomo asked her questions about being a sexual assault survivor.
  • "I thought, 'he's trying to sleep with me, the governor's trying to sleep with me' and I felt deeply uncomfortable and I have to get out of this room as soon as possible ... Without explicitly saying it, he implied to me that I was old enough for him and he was lonely," she said about the June 5 encounter.

The big picture: Cuomo — who said he will not resign — has said he will cooperate with an independent investigation as he faces pressure from Republicans and some Democrats. He is also under scrutiny for allegations that his office covered up the extent of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes.

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