One of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s accusers on Thursday blamed senior staffers in his office for his alleged groping of a female assistant who spoke out publicly for the first time — saying they “normalized and enabled” his “heinous behavior.”
Former Cuomo aide Charlotte Bennett, 25, said the 63-year-old governor’s alleged “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,” Bennett said in a prepared statement.
“His heinous behavior was normalized and enabled by the senior staff who failed to report my allegations in June 2020.”
The remarks by Bennett and her lawyer came a day after the Albany Times Union published an exclusive interview with an unidentified, female aide who offered a detailed account of allegedly being groped by Cuomo, 63, in his Executive Mansion office in November.
When she entered his second-floor office, she told the paper, Cuomo came out from behind the desk and aggressively embraced her in what she described as an overtly sexual manner “that wasn’t just a hug.”
“He went for it and I kind of like was, ‘Oh, the door is right there,’” she said.
“I didn’t know what else to say. … It was pretty much like ‘What are you doing?’ That’s when he slammed the door. He said, ‘I don’t care.’”
Although the sound of the door was loud enough that Cuomo’s staff most likely wondered what was going on, he wasn’t deterred, she said.
“He came right back and he pulled me close and all I remember is seeing his hand, his big hand,” she said.
“I remember looking down like, ‘Holy sh–.’”
Cuomo, 63, then reached under her blouse and grabbed one of her breasts over her bra, she said.
Bennett — who has accused Cuomo of sexually harassing her — added: “His predatory behavior must stop, and those who enable him must be brave enough to hold him accountable.”
Bennett’s lawyer, Debra Katz, specifically accused Cuomo’s chief of staff, Jill DesRosiers, and special counsel Judith Mogul of telling Bennett they didn’t need to report her allegations of sexual harassment to the Government Office of Employee Relations, “which would have necessitated an investigation.”
“The rationale they gave her for this clear derogation of their legal duties, was that the Governor was ‘only grooming’ her for a sexual relationship and she reported it ‘before it went any further,’” Katz said in a statement.
“Their failure to act allowed the Governor to continue to ‘groom’ women for sex, with impunity.”
DesRosiers and Mogul “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,” Katz said.
“This behavior was completely preventable.”
The allegations by Bennett and several other women are under investigation by outside lawyers hired by Attorney General Letitia James and are also part of an impeach probe being conducted by the state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee.
Cuomo’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from DesRosiers and Mogul.
On Wednesday, Cuomo’s lawyer, Rita Glavin, said that the three-term Democrat “has repeatedly made clear that he never made inappropriate advances or inappropriately touched anyone.”