Bennett was asked what made her think Cuomo was trying to sleep with her.
“Without explicitly saying it, he implied to me that I was old enough for him and he was lonely,” Bennett said.
She told the Times that she interpreted the exchange — which she said took place in June, while the state was in the throes of fighting the pandemic — as what the newspaper called “clear overtures to a sexual relationship.”
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly, I am embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say but that’s the truth,” Cuomo said.
In a statement released after Cuomo’s apology on Wednesday in which he did not mention Bennett by name, Debra Katz, an attorney for Bennett, said the news conference was “full of falsehoods and inaccurate information” and rejected Cuomo’s claim that he didn’t know he was making anyone uncomfortable.
“My client, Charlotte Bennett, reported his sexually harassing behavior immediately to his Chief of Staff and Chief Counsel. We are confident that they made him aware of her complaint and we fully expect that the Attorney General’s investigation will demonstrate that Cuomo administration officials failed to act on Ms. Bennett’s serious allegations or to ensure that corrective measures were taken, in violation of their legal requirements,” Katz said.
CBS is scheduled to air another portion of Bennett’s interview during the “CBS Evening News” and Friday morning on “CBS This Morning.”
Bennett was the second woman to come forward with allegations of sexual harassment against Cuomo. Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to the governor, alleged that in 2018 Cuomo kissed her on the lips following a one-on-one briefing in his New York City office.
“And I think that’s really unfortunate, but probably necessary,” she said.
Another woman, Anna Ruch, told the Times — in an account that was corroborated to CNN by a friend — that Cuomo made an unwanted advance toward her during a crowded wedding reception in New York City in 2019.
The pending inquiry, though, could take months to complete, and Cuomo seized the news conference spotlight in an effort to push back against calls for him to immediately step down.
“I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable,” he said.