Charlotte Bennett, one of three women who have accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) of sexual harassment, claimed on Friday that Cuomo had a staff member fill in for him to take a sexual harassment prevention course that he himself had mandated for everyone.
Asked on Wednesday if he had completed training against sexual harassment, Cuomo told reporters: “The short answer is yes.”
But Bennett, 25, said on “CBS Evening News” that in 2019 Cuomo “did not take the sexual harassment training.”
She told anchor Norah O’Donnell, “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” that the training had been completed, Bennett added.
Cuomo’s office director Stephanie Benton flatly denied Bennett’s claim. “This is not true,” she told CBS.
Beth Garvey, special counsel to the governor, said that for executive senior staff, “training takes the form of personal review of documentation.” The governor “did this review of the mandated material and completed the training,” she told CBS.
Bennett is one of two former Cuomo aides who have accused him of sexual harassment. The governor has said his “playful” banter was misunderstood as “unwanted flirtation,” and he apologized for making women “uncomfortable.” Cuomo also said he will not resign over the accusations.
Bennett, who was an executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration until November, has accused the governor of asking questions about her sex life, whether she was monogamous and if she had ever had sex with older men. Cuomo, 63, allegedly told her he was open to relationships with women in their 20s, and that he was lonely.
After one particularly uncomfortable encounter, Bennett told O’Donnell that she reported it to Cuomo’s chief of staff.
“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 recalled. “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?’”
Two days later, Bennett said, she was transferred to a new job.
Asked by O’Donnell what Bennett thinks Cuomo should do now, she responded: “I think he should start telling the truth.” And if there’s an official finding that he sexually harassed women, he “should step down,” she added.
State Attorney General Letitia James is in charge of an investigation into the accusations.
Check out the interview in the video clip up top. More of the CBS interview can be seen here:
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