The second woman to accuse Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment once played soccer against one of his daughters and said she used to view him as a father figure.
Charlotte Bennett, 25, who was a former aide to Cuomo told the governor about their connection and that the pair had played middle school soccer together.
Bennett grew up in Westchester County and said that she initially saw Cuomo as a ‘father figure’ telling him how she was about the same age as Cuomo’s eldest daughter.
Bennett, a health policy adviser in the Democratic governor’s administration until November, told The New York Times Cuomo asked her inappropriate questions about her sex life, including whether she ever had sex with older men – all during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Charlotte Bennett, 25, on Saturday said Cuomo told her he was open to dating women in their 20s and asked her questions about her personal life in June
Bennett said: ‘I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared.
‘And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.’
Bennett, who served in a number of roles for Cuomo – including executive assistant and health policy advisor – said the governor made a number of concerning comments to her last spring during the height of the pandemic in the state.
Cuomo, 63, never made any physical advances, she said.
Bennett, who was an executive assistant before she resigned in November, claims on numerous occasions, the governor asked her questions about her personal life.
Cuomo, 63, said he ‘never intended to act in any way that was inappropriate’ with Bennett and his press secretary said Boylan’s claims were also ‘false’
The questions in early June included those that pertained to a romantic relationship between two people of different ages.
Bennett said Cuomo also made comments stating he was open to dating women in their 20s, which she took as overtures to a sexual relationship.
The former aide did state that Cuomo never made an attempt to touch her but added that he was lonely and ‘can’t even hug anyone’.
Bennett says she said she missed hugging her parents, to which she claims he said: ‘No, I mean like really hugged somebody?’
Bennett told the Times the governor began gossiping with her about who she had been romantically involved with in his staff.
Bennett shared the conversation with other staff members.
Bennett told the governor that she had played soccer with his daughter Michaela Andrea Kennedy-Cuomo who is 24 and close in age
During the chat, Bennett told Cuomo of a speech she was scheduled to give to students about her experience as a survivor as sexual assault.
She said that the governor soon became enamored with her story.
‘The way he was repeating, ‘You were raped and abused and attacked and assaulted and betrayed,’ over and over again while looking me directly in the eyes was something out of a horror movie,’ she said in a text to a friend. ‘It was like he was testing me.’
Bennett describes the May 15 encounter ‘as the turning point in our relationship.’
‘Anything before it I now see differently,’ she said. ‘I now understand that as grooming.’
The former aide said three weeks later, Cuomo began asking her questions about her love life after they had finished working in his office with another aide who had already left.
Bennett said the governor even asked her whether she was monogamous or enjoyed having sex with older men.
During a text with a friend on June 5, Bennett expressed being shaken and upset by the encounter and said she was even worried about writing down what happened.
‘Something just happened and I can’t even type it out or put it in a video,’ Ms. Bennett stated.
Bennett did tell her friend that there had been nothing physical between her and Cuomo.
As the two talked the next day, Bennett disclosed the governor asked if she was having sex with other people ‘while in my recent relationships.’
Cuomo allegedly told the former aide that he was lonely, especially following the end of his relationship with Sandra Lee, Bennett shared.
She said Cuomo described Lee as being ‘out of the picture,’ explaining that he was ‘wanting a girlfriend, preferably in the Albany area.’
Bennett said Cuomo asked her about her feelings about age gaps in relationships, allegedly telling her ‘age doesn’t matter,’ a text she wrote to her friend said.
She said: ‘He asked me if I believed if age made a difference in relationships and he also asked me in the same conversation if I had ever been with an older man.’
After she turned 25, Cuomo is said to have made a comment about how ‘he’s fine with anyone above the age of 22.’
On another occasion, Bennett told Cuomo she was thinking about getting a tattoo.
Cuomo is said to have suggested getting it on her buttocks, so people wouldn’t see it when she wore a dress.
Bennett ultimately reported Cuomo’s conduct to his chief of staff and was transferred to another job with an office at the other side of the Capitol, Bennett said. She left the administration in November.
Cuomo defended himself in a statement released Saturday night.
Bennett’s revelations come after Lindsey Boylan, 36, claimed he asked her to play strip poker and kissed her on the lips without her permission
‘Ms. Bennett was a hardworking and valued member of our team during COVID. She has every right to speak out,’ the governor said in the first statement.
‘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,’ he said.
Bennett is the second former aide of the governor’s to come forward with allegations after Lindsey Boylan claimed the Governor asked her to play strip poker on a flight in October 2017 and kissed on the lips without her permission.
Cuomo has also denied the allegations from his former special advisor.