NEW YORK — The second woman to accuse Governor Cuomo of sexual harassment is now responding to the recent, in-depth report about another groping incident involving another former aide.
Charlotte Bennett and her attorney, Debra Katz, issued a statement saying that Bennett reported the sexual harassment allegations to chief of staff Jill DeRosiers and later to Judith Mogul, special counsel to the governor.
The statement goes on to say that Bennett was told that the allegations would not need an investigation because Gov. Cuomo was "only grooming" her for a sexual relationship, and it was reported "before it went any further."
The statement from her attorney reads in part, "By failing to report Ms. Bennett's allegations as required under the executive order signed by Governor Cuomo, Judith Mogul and Jill DeRosiers fostered a toxic culture of enablement and abuse, which led to the aggressive groping of this woman, who was simply trying to do her job. This behavior was completely preventable."
Bennett released a statement of her own Thursday saying, "The Governor's pattern of predatory behavior is clear-cut and abhorrent, and the similarities between my allegations and the allegations of my anonymous former coworker are nauseating. He abuses his authority to groom, sexually harass and grope staff. His heinous behavior was normalized and enabled by the senior staff who failed to report my allegations in June 2020. His predatory behavior must stop, and those who enable him must be brave enough to hold him accountable."
The most recent unnamed accuser spoke out in an in-depth article to the Albany Times-Union newspaper.
The unnamed female staffer said, "I said to him, I said, 'You're going to get us in trouble,'" she recalled. "I didn't know what else to say… It was pretty much like, 'What are you doing?' That's when he slammed the door (shut). He said, 'I don't care."
"I remember him slamming (the door) so hard that I remember thinking to myself that I'm sure the staff is, like, 'Is everything OK up there?' He came right back, and he pulled me close, and all I remember is seeing his hand, his big hand. I remember looking down like, 'Holy [expletive deleted],'" she continued.
She then spoke of her fear of retaliation, saying, "If I told someone, I'm done. And who do you tell?"
The governor's attorney, Rita Glavin, responded to the article with a statement, reiterating the governor's claim that he never touched anyone and that the truth will come from the attorney general's investigation.
“The people of New York know the governor. He has spent 40 years in public service and in the public eye. He has repeatedly made clear that he never made inappropriate advances or inappropriately touched anyone. The attorney general’s review of this claim and others, including evolving details and new public statements by complainants or their surrogates, must be thorough, fair and provide the truth."
Cuomo has also denied touching anyone inappropriately but said he’s sorry if he made anyone uncomfortable.
Charlotte Bennett was a health policy adviser in the Democratic governor’s administration until November. In February, she told The New York Times that Cuomo asked her inappropriate questions about her sex life, including whether she had ever had sex with older men.
In the article, Bennett says Cuomo harassed her last spring as the coronavirus pandemic consumed the state's actions in Albany.
After that article came out, Governor Cuomo responded to the allegations against Bennett both himself and through his attorney.
"Ms. Bennett was a hardworking and valued member of our team during COVID. She has every right to speak out," he said.
"When she came to me and opened up about being a sexual assault survivor and how it shaped her and her ongoing efforts to create an organization that empowered her voice to help other survivors, I tried to be supportive and helpful. Ms. Bennett's initial impression was right: I was trying to be a mentor to her. I never made advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate. The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported.
"This situation cannot and should not be resolved in the press; I believe the best way to get to the truth is through a full and thorough outside review and I am directing all state employees to comply with that effort. I ask all New Yorkers to await the findings of the review so that they know the facts before making any judgments. I will have no further comment until the review has concluded."
Another statement from the governor's special counsel and senior advisor, Beth Garvey, said:
"Ms. Bennett's concerns were treated with sensitivity and respect and in accordance with applicable law and policy.
"The matter was promptly escalated to special counsel. Ms. Bennett received the transfer she requested to a position in which she had expressed a long-standing interest, and was thoroughly debriefed on the facts which did not include a claim of physical contact or inappropriate sexual conduct. She was consulted regarding the resolution and expressed satisfaction and appreciation for the way in which it was handled.
"The determination reached based on the information Ms. Bennett provided was that no further action was required which was consistent with Ms. Bennett's wishes.
"Although in no way required by law, the Governor has requested an independent review and all staff will cooperate in that endeavor. Former Federal Judge Barbara Jones will lead the review."