Ex-aide to Andrew Cuomo sues, alleges former gov and top aides created ‘sexually hostile work environment’
An ex-aide to Andrew Cuomo has sued the disgraced former New York governor as several other top aides in federal court, alleging that she was retaliated against after complaining about Cuomo’s alleged misconduct.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Wednesday by Charlotte Bennett and names Cuomo as well as his former chief of staff ,Jill DesRosiers; former secretary Melissa DeRosa; and Special Counsel Judith Mogul.
Bennett says in the lawsuit that Cuomo “subjected her to sexualized comments about her appearance” and “assigned her humiliating and demeaning tasks.” She also said the former governor allegedly “subjected her to invasive and unwanted questions about her personal life, romantic and sexual relationships, and history as a survivor of sexual assault.”
The former aide also alleged in the lawsuit that Cuomo said he was “lonely” in a comment to her and wanted a girlfriend who lived in Albany, allegedly adding that he’d be willing to date someone over the age of 21. Bennett was 25 at the time of the alleged remark, according to the lawsuit.
On Bennett’s first full day of her job on May 16, 2019, the lawsuit alleges that Cuomo “called her into his office” and asked a series of questions, which eventually pertained to personal relationships. Cuomo allegedly asked the new employee if she currently had a boyfriend as well as inquiring about the length of her longest romantic relationship.
Bennett’s lawsuit describes the questions as both “inappropriate” and said they made her “uncomfortable.”
After Cuomo allegedly asked Bennett to begin traveling with him, he allegedly asked her a series of questions about her personal life, to which she responded “weightlifting, skiing, and running.”
Cuomo allegedly then asked how much weight Bennett could bench press as well as how many pushups she had the ability to do, he then challenged her to a “pushup competition.”
Bennett also alleges Cuomo made “sexual advances” toward her, and cited a June 25, 2020, incident. She said in the lawsuit that while Cuomo was discussing a proposal on police reform, he said that the way Charlotte’s mask moved in and out when she breathes reminded him of the monsters in “Predator,” the movie.
The lawsuit states that Cuomo allegedly followed-up by saying “If I were investigated for sexual harassment, I would have to say I told her she looked like a monster.”
She alleges in the lawsuit that DesRosiers, Mogul, and DeRosa all “aided and abetted” the sexual harassment, and said that Cuomo subjected her to a “sexually hostile work environment.”
When Bennett reported Cuomo’s alleged sexual harassment to DesRosiers, the lawsuit alleges that she was transferred to an “inferior position” on the Executive Chamber’s health policy team.
The lawsuit also alleges that Cuomo “embarked on a campaign to publicly cast doubt” on the allegations brought by Bennett and other women after they cooperated with the probe by state Attorney General Letitia James.
Bennett, according to the lawsuit, experiences “near debilitating anxiety,” symptoms of depression, and began suffering from a “chronic neurological disorder” over what she says was a “direct result” of Cuomo’s alleged harassment.
Bennett said in a statement that her career as a public servant was “cut short” due to Cuomo’s alleged sexual harassment.
“My career as a public servant was abruptly cut short because of Governor Cuomo’s and his top aides’ sexual harassment and retaliation against me after I complained about Governor Cuomo’s misconduct. They must all be held accountable for their actions,” Bennett said.
Rita Glavin, who represents Cuomo, said in a statement to Fox News Digital that the former governor has always said that he “didn’t harass anyone.”
“The Governor has always said he didn’t harass anyone and with each day that goes by more and more information is uncovered showing how evidence favorable to the Governor was suppressed and crucial facts ignored or omitted that undermined witness credibility. What else will come out during the discovery process? We’ll see them in court,” Galvin said.
The lawsuit comes after Cuomo filed an ethics complaint against James over the handling of the sexual harassment investigation that resulted in his resignation as governor.
In the complaint, Cuomo said that James violated rules of conduct and had an “intolerable personal and political conflict of interest.”
“She engaged in a terrible and quite obvious manipulation of facts, evidence and the law, furthered a false narrative about me and hid evidence that undermined the report from the media and the public,” Cuomo wrote in the complaint.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.